A significant update has emerged over the debate about usage-based billing. The CRTC announced its ruling yesterday in regards to usage-based billing, and they have ruled against the model Bell wanted to implement. However, the ruling isn’t exactly a clear victory for consumers, writes Michael Geist:
On the specific decision, the CRTC rejected the UBB model it approved less than a year ago, acknowledging that it was too inflexible and could block independent ISPs from differentiating their services. The issue then boiled down to Bell’s preferred model based on volume and the independent ISPs’ approach who preferred capacity based models. The Commission ruled that capacity-based models are a better approach since they are more consistent with how network providers plan their networks and less susceptible to billing disputes.
With Bell’s preferred approach out of the way, the Commission was left to choose between two capacity models – the independent providers’ “95th percentile” solution and MTS Allstream’s capacity model. The Commission chose a variant on the MTS Allstream model that involves both a monthly access fee and a monthly capacity charge that can increase in increments of 100 Mbps. That model is even more flexible than what MTS proposed, suggesting that the Commission was primarily focused on building in as much flexibility for independent providers as possible. In addition to this model (which the Commission calls an approved capacity model), the large ISPs can continue to use flat rate models which provide for unlimited usage.
OpenMedia.ca sees this ruling as a victory for consumers, as over 500,000 Canadians signed a petition against UBB:
This is what we’ve been waiting for. Together we’ve stopped Big Telecom’s plan to impose usage-based billing (Internet metering) on all Canadians. Big phone and cable companies tried to rig the market but they were caught red-handed.
A year ago the CRTC decided that big telecom giants could force their small competitors to adopt metered billing. This would have killed Big Telecom’s independent competitors, and it would have meant a more expensive and controlled Internet for all Canadians. It was this outrageous move that led OpenMedia.ca to launch the now half-a-million strong Stop The Meter petition that forced the CRTC to reconsider their plan.
Yesterday, finally, the CRTC pulled back from its mandatory metered billing decision. This decision won’t stop all big telecom metering, but it could provide a much needed unlimited, independent option for many Canadians. It is truly rare for people to outmaneuver Big Telecom lobbyists, but together, we did it. Thank you for playing a crucial part in safeguarding the affordable Internet.
What a fantastic win for consumers, as we were able actually force a change. Now, if only we can replicate this effort towards lowering cellphone rates in Canada, eh?