Canadian Internet Issue: Usage Based Billing

The Internet was supposed to be the great equalizer, a source for people to be creative, and as Canada starts to finally get more multimedia online thanks to Netflix and other sources, we get squeezed by the major ISP’s for using the Internet more. If you think you pay lots for the Internet today, imagine how it will be in five years when we go back to models seen in the past that limited Internet use.

Remember paying for Internet by the hour? Well, soon you’ll be paying by the gigabyte, and even worse, unlike time, you’ll never really have a perfect understanding of how many gigabytes you’ve used until after you’ve watched that YouTube video, or after you’ve played Farmville for a few hours. And of course, because you went over your allotted bandwidth, you now have to pay extra.

As technology became cheaper, and government incentives to cable companies went up, shouldn’t our Internet prices have gone down? And now, in a world where everything is costing more, and the Internet can help continue to make Canadian businesses competitive, become a source of education and entertainment for millions, Bell and Rogers want to make more money, crying that they need to charge more because we are all using more. The amusing part is that their costs have come down, and they get millions of dollars from the Government to put cable in the ground. It costs them only a few cents to deliver a gigabyte of bandwidth to your house, but they want to charge you $50 for the first 25GB and then around a dollar for each gigabyte above that.

An hour of Netflix can use as much as 1GB of bandwidth. An hour of YouTube can use as much as 0.5GB of bandwidth. These might not seem so bad, but the adoption rate on these video heavy services is only going to go up. There are places around the world delivering high definition videos to their patrons every single day, something that would have a Canadian Internet user reaching into his/her wallet to pay overage charges after just three or four days.

What can you do? Speak up! Check out and voice your concerns. Don’t think that just because it doesn’t effect you right now that it won’t later. Once this is in place, they can continue to lower the bar to the point where your home Internet connection and your cell phone Internet connection might have the same bandwidth and overage costs. Imagine paying $50 to be able to watch three movies in a month on Netflix?

Don’t think it will effect your ISP? Think again! Even TekSavvy, long known as a great ISP has had to bow down and add their own usage based billing because they use Bell’s telecommunication lines.

I’ve heard people say that if the prices are reasonable, then they don’t mind paying extra. I was one of these people, until I realized that once their foot is in the door, and they get a taste for blood (the extra revenue) then they’ll never stop. They’ll do what they always have in a market where there is no true competition, they’ll bleed us all dry.

Please take the time to spread this information to your family, friends, and co-workers. There is only a small window of opportunity to get this CRTC bill changed and then it will be a much harder, uphill battle. It only takes a small amount of vision to see how potentially horrible this could be. I’ve already e-mailed my MP, signed every petition I can find, and took the time to research the issue, inform myself, and write this post.

3 responses to “Canadian Internet Issue: Usage Based Billing”

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