Usage-based billing still a concern, says open Internet advocacy group

The Vancouver-based group says they’ll be pushing to make affordable Internet a federal election issue.

Lindsey Pinto, communications manager with the organization, said they’ll be encouraging candidates to adopt “pro-affordable Internet and pro-competition” stances.

Pinto’s comments come a day after Bell Canada withdrew a controversial proposal to charge independent Internet service providers based on usage. Critics say the pricing model would stifle innovation within the telecom industry and result in increased charges for Canadian Internet users.

But while Pinto sees the move as “a step in the right direction,” she said it still doesn’t resolve the broader regulatory issues around usage-based billing.

“It’s not a regulatory solution, which means that it’s not permanent, and it means that it’s not something that’s going to be necessarily widespread,” she said in a phone interview.

Instead of usage-based billing, Bell is now proposing a model called “aggregated volume pricing” (AVP).

According to a letter from Bell to the CRTC, the new pricing model “is not linked to individual user thresholds and should have no impact on how wholesale Internet Service Providers (ISPs) market their retail.” The letter also notes that AVP “ensures that those who use the least are not subsidizing those who use the most.”

Pinto said while the pricing model will allow more flexibility for independent ISPs, she argued it could still result in extra fees for the companies.

The CRTC is scheduled to hold a public hearing this summer on usage-based billing, as applied to wholesale broadband customers. The hearing is part of a review announced by commission chairman Konrad von Finckenstein in February. The move came after federal politicians spoke out against the policy and Industry Minister Tony Clement indicated the CRTC decision would be reversed.

Pinto said she’d like to see a competitive-based means of Internet traffic management, rather than a capping system.

“This is really only a band-aid solution to a much larger problem, where the CRTC doesn’t regulate price because there’s a competitive check, but that competitive check isn’t really there,” she said. has gathered over 400,000 signatures on its online “Stop the Meter” petition.

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Mar 29, 2011 at 9:21pm

Seems to me that the large internet providers such as Bell have their nose out of joint about the success of such companies as Skype and since they have lost revenue from LD telephone calls, they are trying to make it up in extra internet charges to those customers. It would be lovely if we could have companies that actually compete for the customers dollar instead of moving to charge extra every chance they get. It's time to let other countries' telephone companies, cell phone companies, internet companies into the Canadian market and see what shakes out in the end.

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Mar 29, 2011 at 11:33pm

Tony Clement and Harper will change position after election. Conveniently tweets about it to make themselves appear pro consumer. As usual, say one thing and do another...Harper Reform Party has introduced several anti consumer / pro corporation bills for Telecom / cable / broadcast industry and will do so again. Will claim they are continuing for the average person of which they know nothing about. I fear they will get a majority and then God help us all and we will see the real Reform party...a government with less ability to govern and provide services.


Apr 16, 2011 at 3:25am

Since the TRUTH is found only on the Internet...the elite wish to shut it down or second best, throttle the amount of content you can get.
The only way to Fight the elite, is stop spending your money on useless trinkets.

Buy only life sustaining items, and then make sure they are not cheap imitations from off shore.
Keep your money close to home, and out of banks.
They will suck you dry.

And for Gods Sake, Destroy those cell phones and electronic tracking gadgets. (Ipods, and the like)
Get out from under that Iron Jack-boot and interact with people in Real Life...not a fantasy world.