Giga-gouging: Bell and Shaw want to charge you more for your Internet

Posted by Knowlton Thomas

Canada's major internet service providers want to charge you more for your internet usage.

Despite Stephen Harper's government coming down on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's decision to implement usage-based billing for internet service providers and demanding a review, major ISPs have come out to insist that - even if it's not through UBB - they be allowed to charge heavy internet users more money.

This goes to show that, when compounded on CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein's reluctance to completely scratch the UBB decision, Canadians are still fighting an uphill battle for fair internet costs - and that campaigns like Vancouver-based OpenMedia's Stop the Meter are still relevant and must be suported. (Signatures for Stop the Meter's online petition skyrocketed to 300,000, but once the government delayed the CRTC's March 1st UBB-implementation date, signature growth slowed. However, it does still sit at a groundbreaking 460,000.)

Bell and Shaw in particular are taking unkindly to the government's counter-decision.

As noted in a recent Globe and Mail article

Canada's big Internet providers are sticking to their demand that they be allowed to charge heavy users more than other customers, even if the controversial usage-based billing system is not the answer. Officials from Bell Canada and Shaw Communications came under heavy fire Thursday from MPs over the practice, which the Harper government has all but pledged to stop. But in heated exchange at a House committee hearing, officials said the basic principle that heavy users should pay more must be maintained.

Sounds intense. And it is. In fact, Mirko Bibic, Bell's senior vice-president of governmental affairs, warns (or threatens) that Canada's "place in the new global communications economy" might depend on Bell further gouging its customers:

Bibic said that there may be other ways to approach the issue, but the end result must remain that billing should reflect usage or else the vast majority of Internet clients would wind up footing a bigger bill on behalf of a few. Citing the billions of dollars needed to increase network capacity, Bibic said only the large providers are capable of keeping Canada at the forefront of the digital age.

“If Canada is to continue to be a world leader (in Internet technology), it's companies like Bell, Rogers and Shaw that will do it by investing,” he said in a heated exchange with Liberal MP Dan McTeague.

But Dan did not see it this way; he responded by saying that Bell and the other big providers (Rogers, Shaw, Telus) an oligopoly and are stifling innovation in Canada. In Dan's eyes, the major ISPs want to charge the smaller, independent ISPs significantly more money than they need to:

“They're charging far exceeds the investments,” he said. “The best expertise we have is that these costs may be just pennies (per user), instead we're seeing charges of $1.50, $2.50 for every gigabyte you use. It amounts to a giga-gouge.” And he blamed the federal Conservative government for the problem, saying its deregulation policies had stopped new players from gaining ground so they could compete against the incumbents. “These ISPs and consumers are at the mercy of a handful of competitors who do not compete against each other on price."

Unfortunately, at the end of the debate, no progress was made. Every party involved in this war is being stubborn. 

Who do you think is correct? How can we fix the Canadian telecom industry?

Company:
Telus Corp.
Website:
http://www.telus.com
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Technology is a key enabler for TELUS and our customers, providing advantage and differentiation in the marketplace. By managing the life cycle of current technologies and the timely introduction of new technologies we deliver superior service value to our customers and long-term growth oriented investment performance to our shareholders. For investors, TELUS is succeeding in managing technology and capital... more

Company:
Bell Canada
Website:
http://www.bell.ca
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing the most comprehensive and innovative suite of communication services to residential and business customers in Canada. Operating under the Bell brand, the Company's services include Bell Home Phone local and long distance services, Bell Mobility and Solo Mobile wireless, high-speed Bell Internet, Bell TV direct-to-home satellite and VDSL television,... more

Company:
Rogers Communications
Website:
http://www.rogers.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

We are a diversified Canadian communications and media company. We are engaged in wireless voice and data communications services through Wireless, Canada's largest wireless provider and the operator of the country's only national Global System for Mobile Communications ("GSM") based network. Through Cable we are one of Canada's largest providers of cable television services as well as high-speed Internet access... more

Company:
Shaw Communications
Website:
http://www.shaw.ca
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Shaw has experienced rapid and successful growth within the cable, satellite and telecommunications industries over the last several decades. With this growth, Shaw has created and acquired a number of companies focused on delivering high-quality products and services to approximately 3.0 million customers in Canada. more

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an independent public organization that regulates and supervises the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications systems. The CRTC does not regulate newspapers, magazines, cell phone rates, the quality of service and business practices of cell phone companies, or the quality and content of TV and radio programs. As an independent... more


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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and exploring weird side streets. more



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