On Usage-Based Billing

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A few weeks ago, I spoke at a dinner at the ISP Summit in Toronto. The conference brought together Internet service providers from across Canada to hear about issues like DNSSEC, IPv6 and Internet exchanges, among others.

Interestingly, the day of the dinner happened to coincide with the CRTC’s announcement of its decision regarding usage-based billing. This controversial issue was certainly the high profile event for the Canadian telecommunications industry that day. Tension was palpable among certain groups, and there was no way the CRTC was going to please everybody.

So, with a room full of ISPs, I didn’t know what to expect when Timothy Denton, one of the CRTC commissioners, proposed a toast. For sure, no one in the room expected the following.

So, as CIRA’s Christmas gift to you (and with Tim’s blessing), I present On Usage-Based Billing, by CRTC Commissioner Tim Denton:

On usage-based billing, oh let’s take a stab!
Perhaps it’s no more than a revenue grab
And network congestion, which we try to fix
Is just like the shortage of IPv6
A number so large, so vast, and so great
Like stars in the sky, we can’t estimate.

Whatever the problems, we must settle the rates
That players may know what shall be their fates
So networks are built and blockages go
Investors rejoice, and signals do flow.

Demand must be forecast, a risky affair.
The costs are predicted, and traffic load share
Is derived by methods unwise to declare
Assumptions are made, the numbers inserted
From the mouth of the spigot, the prices are spurted.

The Commission’s at work, deliberations profound
To sift through the mountains of evidence found.
If we get it wrong, our doom is foretold,
The Commission’s abolished, its assets are sold.

If we get it right, the public’s appeased,
The carriers will groan, but the Cabinet’s pleased.
So where do we go, to solve the dilemma,
of Internet pricing – no easy problema.

T.M. Denton

CRTC Commissioner

By the way, if you are interested, here’s a link to the CRTC’s decision.

Happy holidays.