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New Usage-Based Billing (UBB) rules in Canada mean that indie ISPs are already slashing data caps from 200GB per month down to a mere 25GB. In response, Reddit users suggested a "Not Safe for Canada" badge that warns Canadian Internet users away from all large files. For those with small caps, this isn't a bad idea—and we asked our creative director Aurich to mock one up. The anger in Canada over UBB has reached such a pitch that the Industry Minister, Tony Clement, had to get involved last night. As hundreds of thousands of Canadians petitioned the government, Clement issued a statement to say he's looking into the whole issue. (AntiUBB.com has a long list of actions aggrieved citizens can take to protest.)"On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, the CRTC announced its decision to allow wholesale and retail internet service providers to charge customers for exceeding the monthly usage of data transfer permitted with their broadband Internet package," Clement said. "As Canada’s Industry Minister, it is my job to help encourage an innovative and competitive marketplace, and to ensure Canadian consumers have real choices in the services they purchase. I can assure that, as with any ruling, this decision will be studied carefully to ensure that competition, innovation and consumers were all fairly considered… Canadians can count on us to do what is in the best interest of consumers."The current crisis was set off by a government decision that allowed Bell Canada, the huge incumbent telco, to apply its usage-based billing scheme not just to subscribers but to the indie ISPs that use its copper wiring to reach subscribers. Law professor Michael Geist, a longtime critic of this scheme, sees it as an attempt to turn independent ISPs into mere resellers of Bell service rather than true competitors.But the indie ISP market remains tiny, and the major Canadian ISPs have imposed tight data caps on their customers for quite a while. The basic problem isn't the recent government decision; it's the structure of the market, one that has been decades in the making."The widespread use of bandwidth caps in Canada is a function of a highly concentrated market where a handful of ISPs (literally—Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, and Videotron) control so much of the market that they can impose wildly unpopular measures without much fear of losing customers," Geist continues. "Simply put, there are no viable alternatives for most Canadians. Given that losing Internet access is also not an alternative, bandwidth caps will remain in the market for as long as the market remains uncompetitive."