|“As you may have heard, Canada’s big ISPs are putting the squeeze on consumer internet usage by implementing new bandwidth caps with exorbitant new overage rates. Beginning March 1st many Canadian internet users are going to see their monthly Internet service bills rise significantly. What does it mean for you? And what can you do? Read on.
Bell Canada lobbied the CRTC for new rules for independent ISPs who rely on their network to serve their clientele. Many years ago the CRTC rightly dictated that the telcos must allow independent ISPs access to the “last mile” so they can service clients. Essentially opening up competition in the broadband market to better serve Canadians, after all, the incumbent telcos received tax breaks and other help to build the network of wires that serve Canadian homes. It makes no sense to have each independent ISP run their own infrastructure to each dwelling.
This allowed small companies such as TekSavvy to offer services to their own customers, often with better bandwidth caps or unlimited usage policies. Rather than compete with this head on Bell decided to lobby the CRTC to implement “Usage Based Billing” (UBB), meaning that these competing ISPs can no longer offer better packages but must instead offer what Bell tells them to offer.
The result, customers of TekSavvy are now faced with a cut in their monthly cap, they are forced to match Bell’s cap and Bell has decided that 25GB per month is enough. So TekSavvy’s customers previously enjoying a 200GB or unlimited cap are now being switched to this 25GB cap. Sure they can buy “insurance” packages to give them more capacity but to get back what they had before their monthly Internet bill essentially doubles, and TekSavvy doesn’t get any of the money, it all goes directly to Bell. If you don’t buy the insurance, well, the overage rates are $2+ per GB.
In the past few months Canadians have had access to new online streaming services, Netflix Canada launched this past fall giving Canadians a great new option for enjoying entertainment, not only on their computers but also via Netflix ready devices such as the AppleTV, Xbox Live and Playstation 3 as well as a new line of Netflix ready televisions and set top boxes launching this year.
Interestingly, as soon as Netflix announced their intention to launch in Canada, Rogers Cable announced lowered bandwidth caps within days of the announcement. It seems very coincidental timing wise doesn’t it? While Rogers set their cap at 60GB per month Bell has gone even further and set a 25GB cap. It’s also quite interesting that the 3 major ISPs adjusting their Internet usage caps are in fact the same corporations who happen to own most of the broadcasting outlets in Canada and also own the largest cable and satellite companies. What better way to kill the competition by making them prohibitively expensive for consumers to use.
To give you some idea of what 25GB means to you, if you watch one HD movie each week you will have used up more than half that cap. If you purchase a game from an online digital distributor such as Xbox Live, Playstation Network or Steam you can easily eat up half your capacity. If you watch YouTube HD you are eating up more of that capacity.
The kicker is with the speeds of the internet connections available today you can use up your entire months allotment of data in only a few hours. This sets Canadians back immensely on the world stage. At a time when more Canadians are turning to the net our ISPs are attempting to neuter our usage or profit from our over usage. Canadians use the internet more than they watch TV these days.
What Can You Do?
The fact is it costs less than a few cents, in most cases less than a penny, for an ISP to move a GB (gigabyte) of data. They plan on charging many times the cost of transferring this data and profiting off consumer usage by only offering low capacity levels from the start. This is not about stopping network abusers, it is about profiting off the average consumer family, we doubt there are many families out there who can remain below the low 25GB monthly allotment of data.
So, what can you do? Sign the petition available at www.stopthemeter.ca, over 140,000 Canadians have already signed this petition.
Contact your local Member of Parliament, Industry Minister Tony Clement, your local council, your local media and anyone else you think can help.
And if you experience a bill or warning due to usage, speak with your money and move your account away from Bell, Rogers and Shaw. If possible move all your services away from them, hurting their bottom line can work, especially if it will have a negative impact on their stock prices. Even if you’re stuck with the same caps at a small independent ISP at least you are sending a message, and helping these independents survive to help consumers fight this battle.
For residents in the Maritimes, Eastlink have stated they do NOT intend to charge UBB.
For residents in Manitoba, MTS may be your best bet.
For residents of Saskatchewan, SaskTel have announced they do NOT intend to charge UBB.
For Alberta and British Columbia residents, Telus are your best bet at this time, especially if you are in an Optik capable area. Telus provides 250GB of data per month for the same price Shaw only gives 100GB. Note, there are no guarantees with Telus of course due to their close ties with Bell Canada, but it has been said that they do NOT intend to follow their lead by drastically reducing customer internet caps.
For Ontario and Quebec residents, if you are lucky enough to have cable services not from Rogers you should be fine, if your only choices are Bell or Rogers then please choose an alternate independent ISP such as TekSavvy.
You can also hurt them by cutting back on specialties on your cable or satellite services and using alternative telephone services such as VOIP (providing you can get a decent internet connection that is!).”
REPRINT: Tripster on Sunday, January 30, 2011 – 09:07 PM
It’s time to fight back Canada.