A couple of posts from the pre-eminent chroniclers of the reliably frustrating and confusing (if not outright nightmarish) story of the CRTC's attempt to get a grip on wholesale pricing for internet access. I recommend checking out their respective postings, if only for the contrast in style. Both provide valuable explanations and insight, but there's kind of caffeinated de-caffeinated thing going on, with Ellis clearly writing on a real jolt. I mean, again, both are seriously on top of this important matter ... but, in the post below, it's like Ellis is taking it really personally. And I commend him for that. Here's a bit from Ellis:
Rather than provide you with a hard-headed analysis of network costing issues, however, I’m going to indulge in a little textual exegesis…
That’s it, we’re giving up on wireline access?
Following release of the decision, Len Katz, the CRTC vice-chair for telecommunications, gave a speech to the ISP Summit, which included a dinner for the indie ISPs and certain other interested parties. Katz talked about the decision and the principles underpinning it. All pretty standard stuff – until we get into the latter half and the vice-chair’s views on the future of the industry. (Katz was named vice-chair on October 12, 2007.)
A dinner party for the little ISPs is the kind of scene where you’d expect the senior regulator on the file (Katz) to sell the bejesus out of his decision, and take every opportunity to build reassuring bridges with those present (i.e. CNOC and CAIP members). These are, after all, the business folks who have the most to lose, or maybe win, from the decision. As I read the notes for the speech, I was struck by several unusual propositions. For starters:
In August 2010, the Commission stated that we would consider phasing out the requirement for large companies to provide high-speed access services to independent ISPs when wireless and satellite services became viable substitutes. There is some debate as to when this will occur, but I believe it will come more quickly than many anticipate.
Hold it right there: “when wireless and satellite services became viable substitutes” – for wireline broadband?
Okay, we know that in three or four years, the majority of global broadband traffic will have moved to wireless devices from wireline services (Cisco forecasts). We also know big chunks of this country will never enjoy next-generation wireline networks – which is exactly where satellite and advanced cellular platforms are expected to take up the slack. But that’s far from the whole story.
In one of Geist's posts, he looks forward:
Rather than fretting about costs to existing plans, I suspect ISPs will start thinking about new innovative plans that will allow for real product differentiation and better network management so that they maximize their capacity. Some may involve differentiating based on speed and price. But hopefully there will be some real innovation. Perhaps:
* Peak timing plans that offer unlimited for much of the day and a reasonable cap during peak periods.
* Rate limited plans that offer hundreds of GB per month at full speed and then slow down for the rest of the month if the customer exceeds the cap (with customer profiles broadly distributed throughout the 30 day cycle to better manage the network)
* Plans that allow users to rollover unused data the following month (particularly for use during off-peak times)
* Skinny basic broadband plans that take advantage of $14.00 access to give a segment of the public relatively cheap, no-frills broadband
* Plans targeted to specific communities, such as Freedom 65 broadband plan for older demographics that may have different usage patterns from younger demographics
For the whole story, check out the full posts below. Tip of the hat (ie. thank you very much) to Mr. Ellis and Mr. Geist.
Sorry for UBBing: the CRTC giveth, Katz taketh away?
David Ellis | 24 November 2011
The CRTC's Declaration of Independent ISP Independence
Michael Geist | 21 November 2011
The UBB Decision Aftermath: Is the Pricing a Killer?
Wednesday | 23 November 23, 2011