Sorry for UBBing: the CRTC giveth, Katz taketh away?

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Funny how we’re all still talking about last week’s CRTC decision on wholesale pricing for Internet access. The one thing pundits and stakeholders have agreed upon is to disagree about the possible outcomes of the decision. Especially when it comes to the money.

Take Nick Kyonka’s piece in last week’s Wire Report, which begins thusly:

“Incumbent Internet service providers (ISPs) and the smaller players who lease access to their networks are scratching their heads over new billing rates for wholesale Internet access and what those rates mean for long-term competition in the Canadian Internet service market.”

There’s lots more. Michael Geist and Peter Nowak have each been mulling the decision three times in the last week, including posts from each of them yesterday designed to interpret the various interpretations we’ve heard so far: see The UBB Decision Aftermath: Is the Pricing a Killer? (Geist); and On UBB, the fat lady has not yet sung (Nowak).

I have information that may help clear up some of the confusion. Rather than provide you with a hard-headed analysis of network costing issues, however, I’m going to indulge in a little textual exegesis… Continue reading

Get yer grimy paws off my Netflix: the scam, continued

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(Updated Sunday, June 19)

This post and the one prior are devoted to a critique of the CRTC’s OTT proceeding, oops, fact-finding exercise – and the role of the Online Broadcasting Working Group (OBWG). Of its 11 publicly announced members, I’m looking at 5 in order to illustrate just how far removed from a “factual” exercise this circus will be. They are ACTRA and SOCAN (covered last time), plus Astral, the CMPA and Peter Grant.

Exhibit F – Astral: “The objective is … that we maintain a level playing field within the system—a system that is a very positive and strong element in terms of our Canadian culture, identity and the Canadian economy.” André Bureau, Chair, Astral Media, April 14. OBWG member.

Whenever you hear a Canadian media mogul saying all he wants is a level playing field, while draping himself in the flag, run for cover. Astral owns 22 TV services, including US “wraparounds” like HBO Canada. They have lots to lose in the OTT wave. I wonder what they’ll say to the OBWG and the Commission… Competition? Bring it on!

The old guard will continue to find lawyers who will continue to argue that every “new media” innovation is just another form of broadcasting, and therefore has to be regulated – meaning they, the moguls, have to be protected from anything that might compete with them. Since our moguls couldn’t innovate their way out of a wet paper bag, they harbor much fear and loathing for innovators like Netflix, because innovators are smarter and their business models have legs – unlike, say, being a subsidized, highly protected reseller of US TV shows with no Plan B for the digital age.

Continue reading

Tips and tricks in “broadband” data analysis

Stats Can analyst Ben Veenhof weighed in recently with further comments about how to interpret – and not interpret – broadband-related data. His email comes in response to a question I had about drawing parallels between a) CIUS respondents who report they’ve never used the Internet and b) respondents (from a U.S. Dept of Commerce/NTIA study ) who say they do not have broadband in their homes. The results of the 2009 Canadian Internet Use Survey were released in The Daily, May 10, 2010 – here.

I noted in my Nov 27 post that the Stats Can Internet analysts had shown a gratifying willingness to field my questions, and not spare the details. It’s terrific that the staff of such a highly respected institution are able to offer outreach of this kind. Certain other federal bodies could learn a thing or two about conveying quality information to the taxpaying public. It would also be very gratifying if the CRTC took note of how Stats Can handles the naming issue, i.e. sorting out broadband and high-speed when talking to those taxpaying and much confused Canadians. Continue reading

More broadband baloney: the phony “access” metric vs actual users

I was approached recently to talk with the Wire Report and CBC Radio about broadband access. One good thing about talking to journalists like Karen Fournier is they tend to be on top of breaking news. You learn some things. In this case, I learned what provincial officials have been going around saying to their lucky citizens about their alleged “access” to broadband.

Turns out many of these officials have the same bizarre ideas about broadband as their federal counterparts, as you would glean from the article’s title: Provinces criticized for reporting 100 per cent broadband access (sub. req’d). It may be ignorance, it may be manipulation, probably a little from each column:

The provinces of Saskatchewan, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, as well as the Yukon, say they have broadband penetration rates—or access rates—of 100 per cent. Continue reading

Pew Internet’s “Home Broadband” on non-adopters

This week, the Pew Internet Project released its indispensable annual survey, Home Broadband, 2010 edition. Both pdf and online versions are available here. The big headline for me is in the latest data about a) the attitude of non-Internet users to broadband as a policy priority, and b) the reasons non-adopters don’t adopt.

Pew Internet broadband adoption

Surprise! High-speed access is a low priority for non-onliners!

This chart from the report (p.19) shows that, among non-users of the Internet, an astonishing two-thirds (66%) believe that expanding “affordable high-speed Internet access” is either not too important as a priority or should not be a priority at all, while another 15% of this group are in the DK category. Continue reading