Letters to the Editors

CRTC overturn is a wake-up call to Internet providers

Dear Editors,

Not all is well in the world of Canadian Internet billing. And this time, it’s personal.

Just three days after signing a contract with Teksavvy, a small Internet provider offering unlimited bandwidth packages for less than half the price of large providers like Cogeco, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) came down with a decision forcing independent providers to adopt something known as “Usage-Based Billing” (UBB)—which, in effect, mandated that these small providers charge customers nearly as much as Internet giants like Bell, Rogers and Cogeco. My wallet suddenly felt lighter.

Personal woes aside, there is something to be said about UBB. For years, major Internet providers have sneered as independent providers have purchased bandwidth from them and re-sold it to customers at a fraction of the price, all without incurring the maintenance and infrastructure upgrade costs associated with operating a major network.

Proponents of the CRTC decision say UBB is a necessary action in order to cope with enormous increases in Internet traffic and to ensure major providers maintain viability in the longer term.

What the CRTC decision fails to consider, however, is that infrastructure upgrades and technological advances have made the Internet more powerful—and cheaper to run—than ever before.

According to a February 2 article in the Globe and Mail, it may cost as little as 3 cents for a major Internet provider to transmit one gigabyte of data, yet most providers charge between $1-2 for each additional gigabyte of usage.

In short: yes, there has been an explosion of Internet traffic among Canadians, but the cost of providing this service is falling faster than the usage is rising.

Fortunately, the Conservative government has listened to the recent public outcry and announced on February 2 its intention to overturn the CRTC decision should the Commission fail to do so itself.

And in the wake of media attention on Internet billing, this should be a wake-up call to major providers who will likely see their market position erode if they do not re-tool their pricing structures. But even in the democratic throng that is the online world, justice is fragile.

I’m willing to pay for my Internet use, but UBB seemed more like a way for large service providers to eliminate smaller competitors and ensure high profitability. Surely, the CRTC can do better.

Brendan Monahan, ArtSci ’11

Reagan at 100: Bad Policies, Great Politics

Dear Editors,

February 6 marks the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth. Since his departure from office in 1989, conservatives and pundits have concocted a dubious and duplicitous narrative about the Reagan Presidency.

“Reagan cut the size of government,” “Reagan was a true fiscal conservative,” “Reagan stood up for America” and most preposterous and fallacious of all: “Reagan won the Cold War.” On the issue of government spending, Reagan should be remembered as a tax-and-spend liberal. According to the Treasury Department, nine tax bills were passed between 1981 and 1987 and seven of them increased taxes.

Regardless of how Reagan personally felt about tax hikes, he signed off on these tax increases.

By 1986 the deficit ballooned to $226 billion and the national debt more than doubled.

Reaganomics—the theory that cutting taxes can increase tax revenues—itself was a myth.

It’s a bold statement to say that the entire Reagan economic policy rested not on an edifice but an artifice. The President’s own budget director David Stockman would call it a “fiscal catastrophe” in his 1986 memoir.

The notion of a muscular foreign policy is a half-truth. There were times when Reagan did stand up for America. When asked about the Israeli Prime Minister’s “unreserved opposition” to the US selling arms to Saudi Arabia, Reagan retorted that it was “not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.”

Ronald Reagan not only sold arms to Iran (while simultaneously jailing the private sale of these arms as they violated the US arms embargo on Iran) but his administration then hoped to fund the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua, an illegal and impeachable offence that has been largely forgotten.

To Reagan’s credit, he was not as ideologically inflexible as George W. Bush. Reagan came into office talking tough on nuclear issues but by 1984 was telling the world that he wanted to see a world without nuclear weapons.

When Reagan met the Soviet Leader Gorbachev in 1985, he whispered: “I bet the hardliners in both of our countries are bleeding when we shake hands.” By the end of his Presidency, he had reduced the US stockpile of nuclear weapons faster than previous Presidents.

Reagan was not a great president; neither was he a bad president. He was rather somewhere in between. In terms of policies, Reagan should be remembered as mediocre.

In terms of politics—that is the ability to win elections, transform the trajectory of the country, and perhaps most importantly, alter the politics of the opposing party—America’s fortieth President goes unrivalled.

Omer Aziz, ArtSci ’12

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