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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bandwidth shortage! Hoard your bytes!

Of course, it's bullshit. Manufactured narrative and straw men.

Was all set to do a nice long policy-wonkish post about this Internet billing business, but I've pretty well been pre-empted by Michael Geist, with an absolute must-read post, and by the Globe and Mail's best columnist, the tart Tabatha Southey, who's managed to cast the whole business in terms of sober Presbyterian restraint and Puritan notions of sin. God love 'em both.

So I'll just restrain myself to the snarky and obvious ( ... for a change ... ). It's not as if there's wear and tear on the infrastructure of data delivery. That infrastructure is there, and it's going to stay there regardless of who's using a megabyte a month and who's using five thousand gigabytes a month. The wires and cables don't melt because there are more packets of data flowing through them.

As Geist puts it, "bandwidth does not disappear once used." There's a lot more worth reading in his post, most notably his disturbing description of the fantasy world apparently inhabited by the CRTC when it comes to competition and consumer choice.

But on top of that, the folks who own that infrastructure have been heavily subsidized for years – preferential tax treatment, public investment for the public good, prescribed market monopolies – so there's a pretty strong argument for treating it like a public utility rather than merely as a means for Bell and Rogers to keep gouging us.

More to come.

(Big h/t Peter Nowak once again.)

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