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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  1. 0
    CraigB says:

     George Mason from TekSavvy made an excellent analogy on that. He pointed out that, at one point, we had absolutely ridiculous costs for long-distance calls. You could end up paying a buck fifty a minute to call from Toronto to Montreal. Ninety dollars for a hour-long call! (For Americans, that’s a pathetically small distance in a very, very big country.) Bell said that those price were necessary then, and nobody could compete, since cell phones were something you carried in your car, and who could string up their own phone lines? It took the government stepping in and opening up the wires to competition to prove that they were wrong and that they were simply acting like monopolists. 

    That’s happening once again. You can’t string up your own phone lines or bury your own cable lines. The telcos got access to government-owned right-of-ways that let them do that. The only way we’re ever going to have real competition among ISPs is if companies like TekSavvy are allowed to fairly compete, without having their prices set by Bell et al. They don’t "resell" the Telco’s Internet access, despite what you may have heard; they basically just rent access to that last monopolized mile of copper/cable that nobody else could possibly lay down. If groups like TekSavvy are providing a better service at a better cost, then that’s a GOOD thing for Canadians, not a bad thing.

  2. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:

    Keep at! Continue to fight the good fight! :)

    However I am waiting for Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Telus (big Canadian telecom companies) to find new ways to screw us *sigh* Shaw already put a cap…thankfully I don’t have to fear switching now. Off to get internet from an unlimited provider now!


    James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

  3. 0
    Craig R. says:


    I’d like to think that US ISPs will take a hint, but they’ll just see it as encouragement to move forward with their own plans to bend everybody over.

  4. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:

    All things considering, Canada has a population of 38,000,000 to 40,000,000.

    When nearly 10% of your population gets pissy, the government better listen 😛

    ——— James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

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