Canadian Government Promises Review of Usage-Based Billing

Update: while writing this story it came to my attention (thanks to HarmlessBunny) that Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement has called on the CRTC to reverse its decision to end unlimited internet access plans offered by smaller internet providers. If the CRTC does not back down from its decision on usage-based billing, Clement says the government will intervene. Further Clement said that the CRTC must "go back to the drawing board" on the issue – more from CBC here.

Original Story: Canadians have fought the good fight and the government is now acting on it. Following a loud and angry protest from Canadians and an appeal by one major ISP over usage-based billing, Canada’s Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, said the there would be a review of the policy implemented by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRT recently approved Bell Canada’s usage-based billing plan for its Gateway Access Services (GAS) customers.

"I am aware that an appeal has been initiated by a market participant," said Clement. "As Canada’s Industry Minister, it is my job to encourage an innovative and competitive marketplace and to ensure that Canadian consumers have real choices in the services they purchase. I can assure that, as with any ruling, these decisions will be studied carefully to ensure that competition, innovation and consumers were all fairly considered."

"The Harper Government is committed to encouraging choice and competition in the wireless and Internet markets," added Clement. "Increased competition can lead to more choice, lower prices and better quality services for Canadians. We have always been clear on our policies in this regard and will continue on this path."

Some Canadians wonder why it took Clement until now to act. Some commentators that live in the region point out that he waited until ISPs rolled out data caps and usage plans before acting. The other problem is that Bell Canada is a major player in Canada’s broadband market that sells chunks of its bandwidth to smaller, regional companies that provide internet in the country. This means that there is no real competition in pricing because Gateway Access Services (GAS) customers have to defer that cost somewhere. This means that consumers are on the hook for it.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Source: Zero Paid

 

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