The chairman of the CRTC has told MPs in Ottawa that the commission will “review” it’s decision to let major internet service providers cap how much data we can download. Konrad von Finckenstein also told a Commons Committee that the commission has decided to push back the changes by 60 days, but as an internet consumer, I find that provides little comfort.
But let’s back up a bit. If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, the CRTC’s decision would basically allow large internet companies to force the smaller independents (who, to be fair, use the larger companies’ network infrastructure) to switch to usage-based billing, instead of offering unlimited packages.
Critics of the ruling say it would ultimately lead to lower download limits and higher internet bills because customers who go over their limit will be charged extra, and will have no option to subscribe to unlimited service. Industry Minister Tony Clement has called the decision anti-consumer and anti-choice, and I tend to agree.
The major providers have used usage based billing for years, but if they’re are allowed to force smaller companies to follow their same business model, than what’s the point of having competition at all?
I think reviewing the decision is a step in the right direction for the CRTC, I only hope this issue isn’t forgotten in the next couple of months before the final decision is made. I also hope that Clement will make good on his pledge to force the CRTC to change it’s decision if it does not choose to do so.
If there’s one thing Canada needs, it’s more ISPs to not only give consumers a choice, but also to keep prices down. Smaller independent ISPs make up only about 6 percent of the market in Canada, according to the Globe and Mail, and many communities have NO smaller companies so consumers are forced to choose either the big cable company or the big phone company (who shall remain nameless). Check out the prices for internet service in the U.S. where there are far more competing companies, and you’ll see what I mean.
A petition against forced usage based billing can be found online at http://openmedia.ca/meter