Terror in the north: Canada loses grip on reality

Could it happen here? A catastrophic breakdown in the laws of physics spurs the Canadian government to impose usage-based Internet billing

Last week, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) instituted usage-based billing for all Canadian Internet users, causing bandwidth caps there to drop from unlimited or 200GB a month to 25GB a month. I've been wracking my brain to figure out how they could possibly believe that this was a useful and necessary step to take. Perhaps they're inhabiting some alternate reality, one where Ethernet bandwidth is shrinking, not growing exponentially. Maybe a reality like this ...

From all reports, it happened suddenly. It's impossible to pinpoint the exact time that Canada discovered it was no longer bound by many of the laws of physics, but the ramifications have been massive and widespread.

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The first indication that something was amiss was when a Mountie in Red Deer, Alberta, observed a moose walking through the eye of a needle. Other reports trickled in from Ontario where engineers in RIM's cell phone testing facility were suddenly able to place and receive cell phone calls from within a Faraday cage, but not outside one. There was also mass confusion and hysteria in Toronto when some CTV viewers witnessed Bob and Doug McKenzie literally step out of their televisions and start drinking their beer.

Needless to say, the Canadian government has acted swiftly in an attempt to restore order. One of the first items on their agenda was to assist the struggling Canadian ISPs like Rogers and Bell Canada, who found themselves in the inexplicable situation of declining bandwidth on fiber and copper connections.

While the rest of the world continues to enjoy massive bandwidth increases on existing fiber, the reverse appears to be happening in Canada. In the United States, 10G, 40G, and even 100G Ethernet connections are moving data at dizzying speeds, greatly reducing costs for carriers of all sizes and further extending the ROI on fiber that was laid down decades ago. The shocking problems with basic science in Canada appears to be reducing those speeds north of the American border.

One engineer at a large Canadian ISP claims that he was present when 10G fiber optics instantly reverted to 1G optics. Copper gigabit network connections fell to 100Mb and so on down the line. Unsubstantiated reports abound that those still using dialup had their modems spontaneously turn into tin cans with a length of string running out the back.

With the laws of physics in disarray, the CRTC's response to the bandwidth calamity was to institute far-reaching usage-based billing for Canadian Internet customers. This allowed the carriers to reduce bandwidth limits by a factor of 10 to coincide with their shrinking backbone and last-mile bandwidth. Where customers previously enjoyed 250GB or unlimited bandwidth usage per month, they now find that they're limited to 25GB, with extremely high per-gigabyte overage costs.

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