Canadian Porn Industry Reeling Over Bandwidth Usage Caps

Canada bandwidth Usage

Well, not only adult film producers, but everyone in the Canadian movie, rich media and web design industries certainly are looking at the possible impacts of the recent decision by the CRTC allowing ISPs to set bandwidth limits on personal and business accounts.

Up or Down, we pay

As a web designer, hosting provider and media consultant, this has affected not only my personal internet use, but how I now advise clients on everything from hosting provision to marketing planning. The majority of Canadian clients seek to use local or ‘in country’ providers for everything from graphic design, corporate video to website hosting and IT. All the better to profile themselves as supporting local talent and industry. In terms of web hosting, even the most popular of our hosted websites rarely exceed the monthly bandwidth download limits set by hosting providers – although that will change as the new rules set in. What has changed since the news of the CRTC decision, is the nature of production. The fall-out is just beginning.

When I started in web design, back in the dark ages of the early 1990’s, we created pages and entire websites on the lowest common download speed. At that time internet users were on dial up, so design was based on text and reduced graphics. As IT infrastructure increased bandwidth possibilities, and users graduated to higher end computers and browsers, it was possible to include higher end media – videos, interactive graphics, high resolution pictures, flash and sound. This has provided a richer experience on the web, and in fact has become the expectation of viewers  – especially for high end brands. Static text based websites no longer hold a following. Companies, organizations, even government bodies are consciously rated by users as to their integration of rich media – video especially is highly valued, hence the explosive growth of YouTube and Vimeo.

The knock on effect of user bandwidth caps is just beginning. As noted in a Globe & Mail article:

A few weeks ago, Ms. Morton was in a Toronto boardroom advising a major public sector client. The assignment: to build a website, rich in video and interactive features, that would outline to the public the benefits of a huge proposed infrastructure project…

“The client was producing a big, beautiful, heavily produced video that they wanted to present in the best possible format. They had spent a fortune on producing this,” said Ms. Morton, who co-owns Peapod Studios in Hamilton, Ont. “They were very concerned about doing it, mostly because of the cost to end users – the cost to deliver it.

“It’s just an interesting thing that you have to be confronted with when you’re in the middle of a creative storm.”

Attesting to that. In recent meetings, two clients have postponed potential contracts with local corporate video producers as the primary distribution was to be web based (HD and base resolution), and they are looking at their entire web content for bandwidth. Naturally, they are worried that viewers will avoid webpages that embed high bandwidth content, and that rich video will be avoided. The effect should be noted – a local video company likely will not get a $10 000 to $15 000 commission.

Those same companies and organizations are also looking at the bandwidth charges for their webinars (from the cost to stream and potential user cost), in house web based video conferencing, and web advertising (flash).

Moving from the corporate to personal. Connecting an extended family located all over the world, Skype is essential. We also tend to access online international video news streams not available on cable TV – channels like Al Jazeera English (invaluable for Middle East news). Same is true of local news. Accessing the latest, CBCCHEK TV or A-Channel in Victoria BC, outside of their TV cable schedule, is invaluable…but it is now a two way cost. A potentially greater charge for the content provider to upload and stream, and now an affirmed far greater cost for the viewer.

What most Canadians do not realize is that bandwidth charges include both download (what you view) and upload (what you submit). The CRTC has allowed ISPs to charge for all data transfer. That means the photos uploaded to social media platforms, and the HD video taken of ‘baby’s first steps’ will count to a monthly capped quota.

Bandwidth caps will have an affect on local media, the content industry, organizations and democratic action. Canadian ISPs commonly say ‘most’ of their client rarely reach the bandwidth limit, but it must be noted that rich media penetration has only just begun. Netflix and others are late 2010 startups in Canada, and will be the 1st casualty of the bandwidth cap regime. Consumers will make choices – download a family movie, or watch an online video of the Prime Minister, or streaming a local council meeting.

You can help – Send a message to Ottawa, Stop the Decision

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Discussion5 Comments

  • Mat Wright Jan 31, 2011 

    Mike,

    Thanks for the reply. I think the combined ISP/content providers in Canada know that cable TV subscription models are basically dead. They are looking at profit from the consumer move to internet. Hence SHAW buying TV stations and running VOIP phone (watch them going into mobile fairly soon)

    It’s a match of content provision and supply, and they control the pricing structure as well as the backend infrastructure. Monopoly is the word: frightening, and wrong

    Reply
  • Mike DeWolfe Jan 29, 2011 

    Great piece, Mat.
    I am torn on this topic presented in this way: Internet companies are making massive profits off of their users; and that usury gets to me.
    I know that Ajax/RIA apps are data hungry even if its a comparative trickle. That approach has always irked me. After working for an international development site for years, I was hyper aware of bandwidth and I always tried to make my sites use as little bandwidth as possible.
    I think we have to call this what it is: the UBB is a Netflix killer. They’ve seen that digital delivery has basically killed Blockbuster and it’s gunning for the cable TV providers next. As Shaw is a cable TV provider and an ISP, they can flex their ISP muscle to keep their cable TV business alive.

    Reply

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