CRTC ruling could make Internet more expensive
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:15PM EST
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission's decision to allow ‘usage-based' billing by Internet companies could mean the end of ‘unlimited' service.
While more and more content is now available online, Internet service providers (ISPs) are putting a cap on how much you can download or stream, before you are charged for every extra byte you use.
While the practice of ‘usage-based' billing is not new, the CRTC's approval of the practice is, and will likely hit heavy users the hardest.
Technology consultant Carmi Levy says those who send e-mails or surf the Web don't use a whole lot of bandwidth. But downloading and streaming movies or having a Skype conversation requires a lot more bandwidth and the costs can add up.
The CEO of Netflix, the U.S.-based movie streaming service that launched in Canada in September, says the ruling is something he's "definitely worried about."
Most major providers like Bell and Rogers already have bandwidth caps in place and have been charging users for exceeding those amounts.
But TekSavvy Solutions Inc., an independent ISP that piggybacks on Bell's network, says their uncapped service is now in jeopardy.
Kate Doforno, corporate communications manager for TekSavvy, says "We're essentially becoming a collection agency for Bell. There's no way to differentiate ourselves."
Critics say the ruling will only embolden big providers.
Shaw Communications Inc., another independent ISP, has long warned that it will start charging users who went over the cap but didn't started levying fees until this month.
Shaw customer Gary McCallum says it's another meter to keep tabs on, "People are definitely going to have to pay a lot more attention to what they are doing."
The silver lining, according to the CRTC, is that big companies must provide space in their pipeline at a 15 per cent discount.
But Teksavvy says that's not enough for them to make any money and will make a decision on its unlimited plans and notify customers within a few days.