Canada Forces Pay-by-the-Byte Metered Internet on Unhappy Citizens

By Patrick Morgan | February 2, 2011 12:27 pm

While Egyptians were enduring an internet blackout in recent weeks, Canadians were–and still are–dealing with an Internet problem of an entirely different degree: the onslaught of metered Internet usage. Citizens are raising their voices in protest, though, and are fighting back against the “Internet-attackers.”

Also called “usage-based billing,” metered Internet appears to be bad news for Canada’s smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but good news for the giants like Bell. Smaller ISPs were profitable because they could rent bandwidth from the larger companies and only pay according to the number of customers they had, and not based on how heavily those customers used the Internet. But a recent decision from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is allowing these larger companies to charge according to the number of gigabytes used. So far, the story is playing in a backwards David-and-Goliath way in terms of how it’s affecting smaller ISPs:

One example is the small ISP TekSavvy, which under the ruling will be forced to … set the data ceiling at 25GB a month and charge customers between $1.90 and $2.35 for each additional gigabyte. TekSavvy formerly offered 200GB or unlimited options, which will be wiped away by the CRTC’s new regulations. According to an e-mail sent out to its subscribers, its premium, unlimited plan users pay $31.95 for will now only get them 25GB per month. [Digital Trends]

What does this mean for Canadians as they sit back with their computers to watch a movie, for example, or download music?

“Extensive web surfing, sharing music, video streaming, downloading and playing games, online shopping and email,” could put users over the 25GB cap, TekSavvy warns. Also, watch out “power users that use multiple computers, smartphones, and game consoles at the same time.” [Ars Technica]

But there is still hope for the average Canadian–government officials are scrutinizing this decision, and could still choose to overturn it.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government would decide by March 1 whether to accept the decision, send it back for review, or reject it…. “This is a very important issue for consumers, for small business, and for innovators,” Clement said following a cabinet meeting in Ottawa. [CBC News]

Related Content:
80beats: Will Wireless Carriers Soon Get Their Dream—Internet That Works Like Pay-Per-View?
80beats: Opinions: What Google and Verizon’s Plan for Net Neutrality Means
80beats: “Do Not Track?” FTC Proposes an Opt-Out for Internet Users
DISCOVER: The “Father of the Internet” Would Rather You Call Him “Vint”
DISCOVER: Is It Time to Chuck the Internet and Start Over?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology
  • http://systemicbabble.com Andrew

    I’d love it it were true usage based billing with free market competition.

    Unfortunately it’s an artificial monopoly foisting unreasonable rates for (low) cap overages.

    I have no problem with paying for what I use…. but there has got to be some correlation between my usage and the cost!

  • TRJc

    All internet transactions have 2 parties, the website and the reader. How will charges be divided between the 2? For example, the cost of advertising and spam should be charged to the advertiser or the spammer, not to the reader. I would be in favor of by byte charges provided I was only charged for data that I requested (at a reasonable rate), and advertisers and spammers were charged for their adds, because this would reduce the number of adds and spam.

  • Anthony

    According the The Globe and Mail (our national newspaper here in Canada), The Prime Minister himself got into this, and told the CRTC to recind the ruling, or the government will overturn it. Yay for us!

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/crtc-will-rescind-unlimited-use-internet-decision-or-ottawa-will-overturn-it/article1892522/

  • Jay Fox

    If I’m not mistaken, didn’t we start out this way? I seem to remember being allotted a certain number of hours to connect way back then. Go over that, and pay dearly. Unlimited usage was supposed to be the new, better way.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • http://, Sarah S

    hi everyone , First time poster and looking forward to being a part of the discussion!

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