Canada’s Prime Minister Speaks out on Twitter about Usage-Based Billing

Canada’s Prime Minister Speaks out on Twitter about Usage-Based Billing

angry_kidIf you’ve been following the Canadian ISP drama over the last few weeks, you’d know that Canadian residents are facing the harsh reality that the Internet will be metered by every ISP in the country.

In short, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) made a decision that forces smaller ISPs to charge customers usage-based billing, and they gave the larger ISP’s (Rogers, Bell, Shaw) the ability to set the rates. While nothing has really changed for customers of the major ISP’s whom already have limited use of the Internet, it meant that no one in Canada was legally allowed to sell unlimited Internet to its customers. And TekSavvy, a smaller ISP in Canada that did offer a 200GB cap as well as unlimited packages have pulled the plug on the heels of the new legislation. TekSavvy customers now have a 25GB cap.

Will the Canadian government overturn the CRTC’s decision?

Aside from TekSavvy capping news, there’s been a few recent updates to the situation since we reported that over 200,000 people have petitioned to stop internet metering. Yesterday Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada tweeted that he’s concerned about the CRTC’s decision on usage-based billing and told Twitter he was asking for a review of the decision.

Industry Minister, Tony Clement also seems to be backing customers with his statement to reporters yesterday “I can certainly undertake to you that this is a top priority for me and my department,” Clement also indicated that Canadians should have their answer by March 1st.

With the possibility of Clement and Harper on board, as it stands now, it’s looking pretty good for Canadians. But, what if the government chooses to pick the side of big business instead of the citizens? Can we expect the major ISP’s to reduce the cost overtime? Or can we assume that the prices will continue to rise? After all, Rogers and Bell are the two major providers of television distribution in Canada (satellite, cable).

It’s not just media junkies affected

Many Canadians believe that the major ISP’s will do anything they can to stop us from streaming and downloading media because if we could freely use Netflix, we might not order as many pay-per-view movies, and worst case scenario (for Rogers and Bell) we’d completely cancel our cable subscriptions and turn to the Internet. And media isn’t the only thing that sucks a lot of bandwidth. What about video-calling services like Skype? Another service that directly affects both Rogers and Bell’s bottom line of their landline and wireless divisions. What about content creators? Uploading video to YouTube and Vimeo uses up a lot of the previous bandwidth as well. It’s not just media junkies being hit here.

Some folks have argued that this entire situation has been blown out of proportion and claim that $100 a month for 200 GB is reasonable. But reasonable for who? People who are fortunate enough to be able to pay it? Regardless of whether you can afford it or not, it’s the principle that enrages many Canadians.

The current ambivalence about the role and legitimacy of smaller carriers continues. They are allowed to exist but denied the means to innovate. In a business with as much uncertainty as this, turning down the possibility for technical and business innovation seems a riskier move than letting it go ahead. -Michael Geist

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