Critics Claim Telus is Violating Net Neutrality Principles With New Overage Charges



According to a new report from CBC News, Telus will begin charging customers in British Columbia and Alberta for going over their monthly data limit for their home internet plan. Telus’ decision is drawing criticism from several online critics.

The Canadian carrier says that the new overage charges will be phased in between March and July. The charges will start at $5 per 50GB of data and will increase from there. Telus says that the overage caps have always been in place but they were never enforced. The charges are designed to ensure that heavy internet users pay for the amount of data they consume.

Scott MacLaren, an electrical engineering student at UBC, told CBC News that Telus’ move to start enforcing overage charges in unacceptable. He says that doing this violates the principle of net neutrality. Telus says that this is not a fair comparison and they are not violating any principles of net neutrality by enforcing overage charges.

“MacLaren: If they’re saying I can watch all the TV I want through their internet network, but I can’t go browsing Facebook on this, as much as I want, is that legal through net neutrality?

Telus: It is an apples to oranges comparison. Net neutrality does not apply.”

Shawn Hall, a spokesman for Telus, says the new charges don’t violate any principles of net neutrality because Optik TV is a broadcast service that operates on different regulations from its internet service. Telus claims that their statement still holds even though MacLaren points out that both services run on the same fibre optic network.

Even though Telus may use the same infrastructure to provide their TV and internet services, the CRTC recognizes them as separate networks which are governed by separate rules. The company says that they are investing $2 billion per year in new infrastructure across Canada and the new usage charges will allow them to meet the growing demand for Internet data.

What are your thoughts about Telus’ latest move and do you think it violates any net neutrality principles? Let us know in the comments below.


  • Daniel MacDonald

    This article confuses me. I have always paid for data overages with Telus. However, it’s more like $10/GB over, not $5/50GB. Somethings isn’t right in this article.

  • Supacon

    I presume this article is talking about Telus landline DSL Internet, not cellular service. It doesn’t say this anywhere in the article. Given that this website is called “iPhone in Canada” that should be clearly stated.

  • Matthew Montano

    This is actually a discussion? You order a 2 lobster tails for dinner and are prepared to pay the 2 lobster tail price. You know that the third lobster tail is an additional charge. For several years you ask, and the restaurant gives you the third lobster tail and for whatever bizarre reason, doesn’t charge you for it. (Probably because their billing system can’t.) — And then one day the restaurant say they will charge you for that third lobster tail — and you think you can complain about it?

  • Article updated to focus on net neutrality part regarding home Internet.

  • Stroodle

    As I wrote up in yesterdays rant – what if, like me, I don’t have any options in the plan that Telus provides me? I only have internet 6 with a 100gb cap. I can’t upgrade because there is no other plan available in my area to upgrade to. Now I will pay a “fine” for going over a minimal limit and it puts me up to the maximum $75 Telus has mentioned? I have been paying for 2 small lobsters and “given” (more like “allowed to use”) an extra lobster for years, as you put it, but I would rather pay a little more for 2 large lobsters and they can keep their 3rd lobster – not keep me starving on two tiny lobsters and nailing me for the additional – exceeding fair market value, not to mention my exceeding long wait time to get my lobster – with speeds of 0.5 – 1.5gbps, my lobsters are usually pretty cold when I get them…

  • Matthew Montano

    Sounds like Telus isn’t meeting your needs as a customer at any price you are willing to pay.

    Now that is a good discussion about incumbents, monopolistic access to distribution etc.

    The fact that Telus chooses to start actually charging for something they have always had the contractual right (but probably not the ability or desire) to charge for sounds like a slow news day.

  • Max Power

    Mathee you’re missing the point. Telus charges overages if you use a competitor for TV like Netflix, but not if you use their TV services. This makes them anti-competitive in TV distribution which is why it’s an issue.

  • Matthew Montano

    If Telus put their own TV services down a separate pipe and put it on two separate line items on your bill. Wouldn’t that be the same thing?

    That’s what Shaw does.

    You can always still get your TV OTA or from Shaw or a Satellite.

    Telus is not charging you more for using a TV competitor like Netflix, because they don’t know that the data you are using is associated with a competitor. It could be Facebook, or YouTube or iTunes etc.

    But not including their own TV distribution data consumption in a data usage calculation, they are simply just being smart in their usage of infrastructure.

    The fact that they are looking to start charging by enacting a clause in a contract which everyone signed sounds like a PR problem not unfair business practices. (I don’t work for Telus BTW.)

  • xxxJDxxx

    But is telus’ network capacity and thus their need to upgrade their infrastructure to add capacity strictly a result of traditional Internet useage or is it also to build out capacity for optik tv?

    If optik tv is carried on the same network and affects its capacity then it is reasonable to say they are prioritizing their TV service over competitors.

  • DoctorT

    This is such a useless argument. Every other ISP charged overage charges when you go over their caps, I’m actually surprised Telus has started doing this only now. Calling this a net neutrality violation is just plain stupid though. It would have the same effect of saying that you can watch unlimited cable TV but if you watch unlimited Netflix on your cable internet now you have to pay overages. Telus’s IPTV and DSL is baso ally the same. They’re seperate packages, technology and accessed differently even though they run through the same line (same as cable TV and Internet).

  • JS

    Then get unlimited Data =/

  • Daniel MacDonald

    Thanks for the clarity. I didn’t know that Telus did home internet. I only know them as a mobile provider.

  • Yeah it’s only available in BC, Alberta and eastern Quebec, about 1.5 million customers.

  • Haywood

    The main issue I have with this is that the caps are extremely low. TELUS reduced the caps by half about a year ago. The price we pay for internet is absurd and should include a much larger cap.

    The other side of the coin that I believe that most people are missing is; do customers get a rebate based on the amount of internet they didn’t use under the monthly cap? The answer of course is NO.

  • sukisszoze

    I got an email from Telus saying my average is over the limit and they will start charging..but if I pay another $15, my data will be unlimited..

  • Rik

    Netflix is being introduced as a part of Optik TV. Alberta has it and BC will be getting it.

  • artikas

    Shaw doesn’t charge overage charges. As the article states, it’s the principal behind it. I have to see what the charges are but if they come into effect anywhere between 0-50gb at a rate of $5 dollars then that’s s bit too much. I think it should start at 25gb+ and over, something in that range. Don’t forget, download and uploads count for your overall consumption.

  • Zaak Shirlaw

    Just another way for them to get your money. Oh Netflix is available on our optik service that cost x amount a month. Oh you get that service already from our internet, you don’t want the tv? Shit.
    Then out comes the Gbox. The ultimate streaming device, guess who really doesn’t want tv. We have some seriously shit Internet and we pay one of the highest bills for it on the planet. We Canadians are so nice we argue for the big company to take our money. See the numpties, below and above my comment.

  • Riddlemethis

    kind of late to the party? telus was an internet service provide (ISP) since the late 90s if not earlier.

  • Riddlemethis

    seriously? that’s your comment? imagine if Robelus wrote in their fine print that they can harvest your organs any time they want (but choose not to) and then they say they will start doing so is ok in your mind? you must be a Conservative government supporter, Matthew.

  • Riddlemethis

    show us the email? there is no such thing as unlimited internet. there is always a cap.

  • Riddlemethis

    too many interns or the editors not doing their job in proof reading before hitting the SEND to publish button.

  • Matthew Montano

    So terms of a contract should only be enforceable if the customer likes them?

    If the terms went ‘the other way’ in the customers favour, folks would be calling up the local news consumer advocate if those terms weren’t being adhered to.

    Terms are terms. They make the world predictible.

    Now, if the company maliciously hid the details or implications, that’s one thing. But Telus clearly offers different packages with different speeds and different quantities of data; and they have for a long time.

  • Snag

    interesting how Telus has now included Netflix on their Optik boxes right before doing this.

    They want to facilitate the overage charges/plan option subscriptions.

    All about the money and they are lying through their teeth to justify it.

  • Snag

    by adding Netflix to their Optik boxes right before doing this, it tells me there isn’t a data problem per se. It is an ARPU problem: they was room to screw the user a little more so they not only did it, they are hoping the users drive it in themselves.

  • Snag

    That is now incorrect. Telus is offering an add-on for unlimited. $15 for Optik TV customers….$30 for everyone else.

  • Curtixman

    Noting that you state in your post is correct.

  • Curtixman

    Hell no. No policies to protect the consumer. n Plus one to protect and make more cash for the provider though.
    I am not happy about this. It is a shame too because I swore off Telus for 15 years and only recently begun to switch services back as their customer service has been moved back domestic. This is a policy that I will not tolerate though. If this goes live in July I will terminate all service with Telus.


    Scott MacLaren is correct, this new crap from telus is doing now is a violation of net neutrality, the internet is supposed to free, telus has adopted what the americans are doing to their internet, and please don’t use netflix as a excuse, TELUS YOU SUCK

  • SB

    Data overages charges on your home Internet services not cell phone

  • disqus_AZ37NcFd7d

    I only switched to telus a few months ago because the sales person promised me this would never be an issue. Feeling totally duped, and cheated.

  • TestEngineer604

    As I know Telus TV uses Internet bandwidth, how I know they metered only my internet usages not the Telus TV, and double charge me? Since I already paid for its TV.

  • mrcanada976

    Sounds like a guy who is choked that he can’t torrent to his heart’s desire any longer.

    By this guy McLaren’s logic, it was unfair for Shaw to allow users to get cable TV services over their cable connection yet have bandwidth caps on their internet. Even the old analog TV signals represented a massive amount of data if they were digitized, now they offer digital TV with set top boxes. Is Shaw digital TV IP based? I dont really know. But data is data is data.

    Why single out Telus for doing the same thing? (Using the same backbone network to deliver broadcast and on-demand content).

    Furthermore, has this guy seen how much it costs to get even a standard basic cable package through Optik? It may be the same IP based network, but that extra $45 a month over and above your internet charges is hardly “included” in your ISP access fees. Toss in some specialty packs and it could easily reach $100 a month – over and above your internet charges.

    This is not the principle of net neutrality. Violation of net neutrality is prioritizing one provider over another, say Gmail over Hotmail, or using Seqoia traffic shapers to throttle bittorrent data over web pages or Youtube (which is actually a good idea, IMO, given how much overhead per packet torrent generates), or prioritizing Youtube but traffic shaping VEVO.

    Guy has far too much time on his hands to be complaining about this. Does he honestly think that Telus is going to have their premium paying customers (Optik TV) watch as their broadcast television buffers because of a bunch of people torrenting and downloading video games on their network?

    I’m sorry, but if my broadcast television solution was stuttering and buffering and blowing through my bandwidth caps IPTV as a business model would be dead.

    Maybe instead of downloading pirated movies, software and video games McLaren should try out Optik TV for a month. Honestly its a lot less of a pain in the neck to hit 707 on my remote and pick a movie and it’s playing in seconds than muddling with codecs, wires, my computer, burning DVDs and hoping that the torrent I downloaded is not subtitled in Romanian filmed by some dude hiding in a movie theatre with a camcorder in NTSC, run through four codecs and with a distinct hum in the background and the sound of people eating popcorn.

    God. The things some people will do to save a few bucks. Right down to trying to claim that the provider is somehow breaking the rules because it’s “unfair” for paying customers to get superior service over those looking for a free ride.

    I wont say I have never downloaded a pirated movie by torrent… but come on. It’s free for a reason, and the pain in the a** is the price you pay – including having your torrent applied to your bandwidth cap.

    If your time is worth $4.00 an hour, it’s cheaper to just go to the theatre and pay to see the darn movie and eat their deliciously unhealthy popcorn.

  • mrcanada976

    Its only a matter of time. Shaw uses a node based data delivery system not unlike how Tbase2 used to work back in the 80s and 90s (much faster, of course). Their network is difficult to determine usage accurately on a endpoint basis, but beleive me, they’ll figure it out.

  • mrcanada976

    It is an app that uses your data, not included in Optik. It warns you when you open it the first time that it counts against your data unlike Optik TV. The app is just preinstalled on the set top box. Quite handy, actually. I have a Blu-Ray player that does Netflix, and I find myself using the Telus app because it’s more convenient to not switch back to the player’s dashboard and I only have to use one remote.