This is an easy answer – all Canadian artists and cultural workers should support opening the market to international telecommunication companies just like Verizon.
And now comes the fun part – explaining why!
For artists and Canadian culture in general this is a terrible sanction to have on us during this emerging period of online productions. Think about it – with data being so expensive in Canada and so comparatively cheap everywhere else in the world, our ability to produce and consume digital work is handicapped. We’ll put less work up, and we’ll watch less and the work that is up there has less production value, making us a bit of a laughing stock internationally.
Look at this way – throughout history artists have usually been on the trailing edge of technology as it become more affordable. Now with the massive economics of mobile devices, artists are finally right there on the vanguard of innovation – except in Canada. We simply can’t afford to be as nimble, innovative and productive as the rest of the world.
Why? Because Bell, Rogers and Telus have been lying and manipulating us in order to maintain a monopolistic strangle hold on the tiny Canadian market and leave us with the some of the highest rates in the world for internet, text messages and data transfer. I know this is not exactly news to most people, but incredibly many people out there are still sympathetic to these big three players because, apparently, they will believe whatever commercials and lobbying messages are put on the TV by the people who they are paying money to watch these commercials and lobbying messages on TV.
Below is a summation and rebuttal, point by point, of their main points throughout recent years, as seen on TV:
1. People illegally downloading movies are causing more strain on the system so that’s why prices are high.
That’s like saying if your neighbour is watching a lot of TV, your cable bill will go up. Or lots of people are mailing books to each other that they stole from their local libraries, so stamps will increase in price. Usually something being used used more frequently usually results in it becoming cheaper – no matter the content being downloaded, someone is still paying for that bandwidth.
Also, look through these companies Business packages. They tend to espouse how fast and growing their networks are – but when dealing with their retail service, then suddenly they need you to pay more for less. Neat trick.
2. The internet is growing and becoming faster. It’s expensive to keep up these standards so that price is reflected in our bills:
You may be surprised to find this out but in fact the internet is very fast and rather boundless by it’s very nature – what you are actually paying for is the technology and marketing these big three companies use to actually slow down the internet to various levels and sell it back to you with caps on the speed and amount you can download.
3. They have internet packages that are very reasonable for the amount people use them:
No they are not reasonable. If I go above my monthly cap, then I have to pay $10 per Gigabyte – 10 FUCKING DOLLARS! – per gigabyte. Most people don’t even know what a gigabyte is so these telecommunication companies will get away with this exploitative and unethical behaviour. And frankly, it is nobody’s business what I use my internet for any more than it is what books i read or what kind of music I listen to. But my point here does apply to being an artist who uploads many photos and other media to websites, and this hampers that.
Now the really evil part – Bell, Rogers and Telus are adjusting their internet packages so that it is very fast for everyone but lowering the amount of data you are “allowed” to use. This means people will literally be able to race to their caps faster and thus have to pay exorbitant fees ($10 per Gigabyte!!!!) based on the small print of their contracts, which also have steep penalties for breaking contracts early or even for not returning the low-quality mass-produced modems they supply. For example, the modem we have is probably worth about $80 retail. If we do not return it when we cancel their contract, we have to pay $800. When they get the modem, they’ll just dispose of it.
4. Bell and Rogers are Canadian – we should support Canadian businesses!
Keep this is mind: Bell and Rogers are also international companies and would in a heartbeat trade places with Verizon. All of these companies are the same and view you the same way, so you should treat them the same as well. What is important here is that if companies like Verizon are allowed into our market, the price for data for people like you and me will drop considerably.
The disparity in access to available networks in North America becomes even more ludicrous when you consider the fact large corporations are enjoying international free trade agreements, but we as individuals are not benefiting.
5. Bell, Rogers and Telus will provide better Customer Service.
Anyone who is Canadian and does not work for Bell, Rogers or Telus will agree that these companies have been terrible to their customers and only very slightly, begrudgingly better since more competition seems to be looming on the horizon. For most of us, we’ve talked to each about this and shared our revenge fantasies of someday seeing the demise of these companies.
In conclusion, there are changes coming. The CRTC has, finally, made a ruling to limit the contracts, alleviate unreasonable roaming and other charges and provide some price relief. Not sure why they have not stepped in before to help protect citizens, as that is supposed to be their job.
In the meantime, my family and I have switch away from the evil three and gone with an ethical re-seller of Bell (you cannot escape the reseller status of all independent telecommunication companies in Canada. They are all re-sellers of Bell’s bandwidth because our government allowed Bell to become a monopoly over many years).
Someday, we hope to completely free and clear of purchasing any services from Bell, Rogers or Telus, and so should you.