PM Tweets Reversal of Usage-Based Internet Billing

By: Lee Rickwood

February 3, 2011

Now that the Prime Minster has weighed in – tweeted in – on the controversy surrounding Internet billing in Canada, well, that’s hot (mouse) button politics!

The PM and his government say they will force a review if not reversal of the recent Internet decision, made by the country’s telecom regulator, the CRTC.

As mentioned here in an earlier story, the CRTC recently said that both large and small Internet service providers would be able to bill by the meter – so called UBB, or usage based billing.

That decision riled consumers, industry lobby groups, opposition parties and even some of the providers themselves, as also reported.

Hydro Meter

Data consumption on the Internet will be billed and metered just like hydro.

Consumers feel they will be gouged for movie downloads or other Internet activity.  Lobby groups pointed out a potential stifling of industry growth and entrepreneurship, with small businesses and digital media creators facing higher costs.

And the ISPs, well, while the bigger providers have long had capped or tiered service offerings (and even overage charges) some of the smaller ISPs are already upping their costs – even though, officially, the decision would not come into effect till next month.

Now, that’s if it comes into effect at all.

Federal Minister of Industry Tony Clement has reinforced the fact that the recent decision of the CRTC will be reviewed especially concerning usage based billing and the ability of small Internet service providers to offer less costly downloading options to their customers.

But, there’s still a lack of specific information about how the decision will be reviewed or revamped, and what other course of action the government might take on the matter of Internet usage and fair billing for it.

Internet service, although it has many valuable personal, professional and community benefits, is mostly a for-profit activity, offered in some cases by private companies. Making it more universally and publically accessible will be a political juggling act.

Advocacy groups are clear on what they want and expect.

“Canadians, in showing that they are organized and united, have moved the political process,” said Steve Anderson, the national coordinator for and its Stop The Meter campaign. “Canadians have seen behind the curtain now and have come to the conclusion that the future of the Internet should not be decided by lobbyists and captured regulators.”

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submitted by Lee Rickwood

1 comment

  1.' Lee says:

    quick update here:

    The CRTC Chairman, whose decision on usage based billing has caused such an uproar, will face questions about the decision from a government committee – later today!

    Check out for live coverage beginning at 4 p.m.

    Yes, ironically, watching the online video may cost you more in Internet usage, depending perhaps on what his answers are….

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