Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Friday, May 7, 2010

The CRTC Approves Usage-Based Internet Billing

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) provisionally approved usage-based internet billing for Bell's retail and wholesale customers who rent part of Bell's network in August 2009. Bell will be able to apply usage-based internet billing only if it ends unlimited downloading from its own offerings. This means those using Bell's internet services will be billed based on how much they download each month. In order for full approval, Bell must move any retail customers it has on unlimited downloading services onto new usage-based plans before it can apply usage-based billing its wholesale internet service providers. Bell will also be required to make any usage insurance plans that allows its own retain customers extra monthly usage for a small fee available to wholesale ISPs.

Despite opposition from smaller wholesale ISPs, Bell argued that usage-based billing is necessary to slow the congestion caused on its network by heavy downloaders. Currently some ISPs offer plans with hundreds of GB but Bell limits retail customers to 50 or 75 GB depending on the plan. The usage-based billing will use flat fees and set a monthly usage limit per customer. Users exceeding their limit will be charge per gigabyte based on their connection speed. Customers with a connection speed of 5 megabits will have a limit of 60 GB with a charge of $1.12 per GB to a maximum of $22.50. There will be an additional charge of 75¢ per GB for customers using more than 300 GB per month.

The CRTC is currently considering matching speeds ruling as well. Smaller ISPs can sell connection speeds up to 5 megabits per second while Bell sells connections speeds up to 25 megabits per second. This gives Bell an unfair advantage over the smaller ISPs. The CRTC is expected to report on the matching speeds ruling in September 2010.

Many consumers feel that the CRTC's approval of usage-based internet billing is taking a major step backwards.  Many more feel that the CRTC is failing to do it's intended job of protecting the Canadian consumer and that they are being influenced to side with companies such as Bell and Rogers.  The internet infrastructure in Canada is one of the poorest in the world.  Part of the reason for this is lack of competition with the companies that own television signals also owning the internet infrastructure.  There is no incentive for companies such as Bell or Rogers to extend their services to those living in rural areas so at best the rural areas are serviced by dial-up internet or satellite.  Neither of these are considered high speed although satellite can be as much as 25 times faster than dial-up.  However, anyone using satellite internet will quickly tell you about Fair Access Policy (FAP) where the connection speed will be throttled down to dial-up speeds if you exceed the bandwidth threshold.  Some satellite providers (Xplornet) throttle down for 1 hour while others (Hughes) throttles down for 24 hours making it almost impossible to do anything online.  The CRTC ruled that thottling down by the satellite companies was acceptable in 2009 essentially forcing customers to pay 100% while receiving at times 40% of the service.  Both Bell and Rogers have come out with wireless stick connections that are getting some rural customers high speeds but there are not enough towers and many customers can't get a signal due to obstructions such as trees. 


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