Why a Metered Internet for Canada is such a Bad Idea

January 28, 2011

While the rest of the world is embracing unlimited broadband Internet on a scale never seen before, Canada’s Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), has approved Telecom Order CRTC 2010-657, that will allow Bell and other big telecom companies to charge Canadians by the byte, in what is known as usage-based billing (UBB).

On May 6 2010 the Commission directed Bell Aliant Regional Communications and Bell Canada to file, for approval, an insurance plan for Gateway Access Service (GAS) that is equivalent to their insurance plan for retail Internet service. On June 21 2010 the Commission received applications from the Bell companies, proposing changes to their General Tariffs – Gateway Access Service. Specifically, the Bell companies proposed to amend their GAS tariff to include a charge for an insurance plan for Residence GAS. A charge of $5 per month per Residence GAS access would apply for a 40-gigabyte additional usage block beyond the applicable monthly usage allowance, to a maximum of three additional usage blocks per Residence GAS access per month. After some debate, the Commission finally approved the Bell companies’ applications on September 2 2010, effective the date that they implement UBB for GAS.

Apparently the CRTC “received a large number of public comments, generally opposing UBB”, and decided to grant smaller ISPs who buy broadband wholesale from the big networks a 15 percent discount on the metered rate that the big providers charge consumers. Although many of those smaller ISPs had expressed their views on trying to differentiate themselves by offering unlimited Internet, this is going to be extremely difficult now since the big ISPs can impose UBB on the small ISPs.

“Services provided by smaller competitors bring pricing discipline, innovation, and consumer choice to the retail Internet service market,” the CRTC’s decision explained. “The Commission considers that, in the absence of a discount on carriers’ wholesale UBB rates relative to their comparable retail UBB rates, smaller competitors’ ability to continue to differentiate their retail Internet services would be unduly impaired.”

As described by Steve Anderson, national coordinator of the non-profit organization Open Media,

“The CRTC has once again left the wolves in charge of the henhouse. It is deeply disappointing that the Commission has decided to give a few companies a free hand to engage in economic discrimination and crush innovation.”

Among the consequences of this new regulation are that it cripples innovation and holds Canada back in the productivity and development arena, and for no other reason that increasing the profit margins of companies that are already profitable.

All this at a time when a significant and growing number of Canadians are starting to use high-bandwidth in a big way in their everyday lives, and not just for entertainment, as some UBB advocators are trying to depict, but for services and applications geared towards more efficient business productivity, such as cloud-based applications and data storage, Audio & Video Conferencing, collaborative environments, etc.

AntiUBB.com has put together a list of 25 reasons explaining why metered Internet for Canada is such a bad idea:

  1. Internet in Canada is already amongst the most expensive in the world. UBB will make it even more expensive.
  2. Usage-Based Billing is a scam because it’s sold at 100x times what it costs to make
  3. Usage-Based Billing will kill Internet TV, cloud computing, High-Definition movie downloads and more.
  4. The caps proposed are ridiculously low and can be reached in a single day. Many, many Canadians already break it.
  5. Bell is obviously trying to increase its profits. Make no mistake: UBB is a purely profit-driven incentive.
  6. There is no network congestion.
  7. Even if there ever is network congestion – which MIGHT happen – Bell should be updating their networks, not punishing people for using a good they pay for in the first place.
  8. Unlimited Internet is offered in many countries in the world. Even in countries where caps are imposed, the caps are much higher, often 250GB.
  9. A single game can take 25GB. According to Bell, downloading this game should cost $50.
  10. Every profession which depends on the internet is at risk.
  11. The “Use more, pay more” argument is worthless.
  12. Usage-Based Billing will kill the internet as we know it. Period.
  13. It’s anti-competitive and violate anti-trust laws.
  14. Bell owns large television networks (CTV, etc.) and want to make sure people will continue to a)Pay for cable television b) Watch television.
  15. It’s a step back for all Canadians.
  16. How can Bell and others decide what is a “fair” use of the Internet?
  17. It opposes Net Neutrality
  18. Bell already controls the cellphone markets and rips off customers month after month.
  19. You do not control your download.
  20. In fact, the download meters are not even accurate.
  21. It will kill independent internet providers.
  22. UBB encourages pirating
  23. UBB exists in only a handful of countries in the world
  24. It’s the only medium we control and the only “free” source of information we have
  25. UBB is the act of large corporations who don’t give a damn about you and only want to save their profits.

You can read a more detailed explanation of each point at the following link:


You can also check some figures on the percentage of broadband offers in OECD countries with caps from the OECD Broadband Portal:

  • Canada – 100%
  • Australia – 100%
  • New Zealand – 93%
  • Iceland – 83%
  • Belgium – 82%
  • United Kingdom – 40%
  • Luxembourg – 38%
  • Turkey – 37%
  • Ireland – 22%
  • Portugal – 16%
  • Slovak Republic – 15%
  • Spain – 10%
  • Hungary – 6%
  • Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States – 0%

If you want to take action against UBB you can join the “Cause” that RackNine has set up on Facebook called “Oppose Canada’s Metered Internet Billing UBB”, by clicking on the box below: