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Usage Based Billing In Canada To Be Rescinded 364

theshowmecanuck writes "The Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Industry are set to reverse a ruling by the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) allowing big Cable and Telecom companies to charge based on bandwidth usage. The ruling applied to both retail customers and smaller ISPs buying bandwidth wholesale from the major companies. The head of the CRTC has been called to testify before cabinet on why they want to allow the big internet providers to do this. In this case the elected government agrees with the very large number of angry Canadians that this was bad for competition. Most Canadians see this as a bureaucracy aided cash grab with very suspect timing since companies like Netflix are starting to move into the Canadian market (big cable companies lowered caps and increased usage fees a week before Netflix started Canadian operations). The CRTC has a fair number of ex-industry executives on the board."
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Usage Based Billing In Canada To Be Rescinded

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  • Balance as usual. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @09:31AM (#35089346) Journal

    The CRTC has a fair number of ex-industry executives on the board.

    Apparently none were ex-Netflix.

  • by ark1 ( 873448 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @09:56AM (#35089564)
    “If they don’t reconsider we will reverse their decision.” What is likely to happen is that the CRTC will go back to the drawing board and will propose another solution. Perhaps they will make some concessions or perhaps they will find a more subtle way of screwing the little guy. Also when politicians get involved, you have to wonder whats the hidden agenda. There is a looming threat of a new election in Canada and being on the side of the population will get them a few much needed extra votes. Should they get what they want, which is a majority, I say watch out. I'm certainly happy that something is being done but I don't expect the fight to be over.
  • Re:Right on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @10:14AM (#35089722) Homepage

    Speaking as someone who moderates a lot, your preemptive claim of moderator abuse doesn't help get the moderators to leave you alone. :P

    As for the cap, the caps aren't like that. What actually happened is that your new cap is 25GB, and it costs $2/GB beyond that. Still think its a great idea to watch hulu or download a 10GB game off Steam? Those are the actual numbers the ISPs in Canada are pushing on people.

    The other issue is that this came from the CRTC, which is notoriously stuffed with former telecom insiders and who ALWAYS rules in their favor (except when they clash with the big media companies, but Canadians never win in these things).

    This decision was terrible and the government is doing the right thing by stepping in. What they actually need to do is purge the CRTC and fill it with true experts instead of former Bell employees, but I'll take any kind of forward progress at this point.

  • by shovas ( 1605685 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @10:16AM (#35089744) Homepage

    On the consumer side, you can pick an appropriate plan that allows for only the amount of bandwidth that you need, resulting in more effective market segregation. This means low-use consumers don't need to subsidize high-use consumers. On the ISP side, the incentive is to provide as fast a connection as possible to encourage usage and excess usage.

    What actually does happen, though, is that the ISP provides ludicrous plans (too much money, too little bandwidth) AND the ISP does everything in their power to encourage excess usage. They have their cake and eat it, too, because we lack proper, level playing-field competition.

  • Re:best interests (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dorkmaster Flek ( 1013045 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @10:16AM (#35089750)
    I'm all for hating on Harper, but to be fair on this particular issue, it was the CRTC and not Harper who made the decision. I honestly don't believe that Harper was specifically aware of this until it became a PR nightmare. The main problem in this case is that the CRTC is appointed and not elected, and it's made up mostly of former telecom employees. Their recent decisions have shown that they either a) have no understanding of Internet issues at all, or b) simply favour major telecoms by default and are corrupt asshats. Or maybe both.
  • Re:Right on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @10:16AM (#35089754) Homepage

    And as is regularly brought up, there's a reason for that. Without government sponsored monopolies most cities would have 50 ISPs jumping over themselves for the lucrative to operate and relatively cheap to install urban markets, while the unprofitable to operate, relatively expensive to install outlying areas would be luck to get Internet at all. The whole idea of local government owned or government managed utilities came about precisely because people outside of the urban centers got tired of not being able to get electricity, water, and phone service. Do you think the Internet would be miraculously different somehow?

  • Re:Right on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dimeglio ( 456244 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @10:40AM (#35089998)

    I'd rather have pot holes and falling bridges than a road system owned by shipping companies who set-up tolls and send their own cops after those who might carry anything too big in their trunk.

  • Re:Right on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:44AM (#35090726)

    Then run it as a god forsaken utility! First and foremost, there are plenty of rural areas stuck with zero broadband options. No cable, no DSL, no 3G coverage.

    Secondly, utilities are highly, highly regulated. If the power company wants to increase your bill by $.02 per kWh, they have to go and ask the government's permission to do so.

    They generally don't even own the distribution lines, they have to bid to offer services and the lowest bidder gets access. Imagine a world where the costs of starting an ISP exactly equal to the costs of installing a trunk line to your basement and the servers and software needed to operate. And unlike electricity or natural gas, there's no reason that the distribution lines couldn't be shared by multiple ISPs. Now, can you even begin to imagine how such a system would change the way ISPs operate?

    I say hell yes, treat them exactly like a utility. The current system gets all of the public costs associated with utilities and practically none of the benefits.

  • by bitingduck ( 810730 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @12:17PM (#35091188) Homepage

    It's not really an outbreak of sense-- if you RTFA the big providers will still have caps, and those caps are too low to support things like netflix. My GF lives in canada and goes over the cap (with Videotron) periodically just from normal use, without watching HD movies or anything. When I finally got around to getting an HD TV I went through 15GB in a few days watching netflix, but I don't have a cap (at least officially). She'd be getting overage bills if she did anything like that-- we were a bit disappointed that when Netflix decided to offer service in Canada it was only online, since the bandwidth caps make it so it's not terribly useful.

    With any luck, the small providers will be able to push the big ones into no caps or high enough caps to be useful, but it doesn't look like there will be an immediate effect.

  • by Socguy ( 933973 ) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @01:25PM (#35092038)
    Yes, they still have caps, however, I go over my cap every month and have yet to be charged for it. As long as the threat of the independent operator is out there, the big guys will be less willing to make an issue out of it.

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