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Posts Tagged: Corporate Power

Internet Bandwidth Caps, Corporate Power, and Consumer Rights.

by Adrian Patience

While I want to maintain this site’s political neutrality, I think that this issue is just too important to ignore. If Canada wants its citizens to be increasingly competitive in the global community then these extra internet bandwidth charges must be eliminated. The two main internet service providers in Canada (Bell, and Rogers) would forsake Canada’s technological innovation/development in order to make even larger profits from their customers.

The CRTC, a government body which is supposed to regulate these matters, has complacently ruled in favour of the Canadian corporate telecommunications giants at the expense of the consumer. The ruling allows Bell and Rogers free rein to charge consumers whatever they want for internet bandwidth. To be fair the network communications infrastructure do belong to Bell and Rogers, and they feel that in order to maintain these networks and retain competitive advantage they have to recurrently charge the consumer more. However, with only two choices for the consumer/smaller ISPs(internet service providers) these companies have a monopoly on broadband internet service in Canada. Both Bell and Rogers own the main backbone connections to the global internet. Even smaller ISPs in Canada that offer broadband internet service have to buy bandwidth on Bell’s/Rogers’ networks. They then resell this bandwidth to their users. Bell and Rogers now have the right to force these smaller ISPs to add usage based billing to their users, and this subsequently increases the cost of internet for the consumer. This compels these smaller ISPs to fall inline with Bell’s/Rogers’ current service plans (none of which offer unlimited internet bandwidth). This effectively eliminates unlimited broadband in Canada, and it also eliminates any competition regarding internet service in Canada that isn’t either Bell or Rogers. This begs the question: with whom are they competing that they can justify these additional bandwidth charges?*

Extra Bandwidth charges being levied on consumers helps to insidiously eliminate net neutrality in Canada. I’m sure that you’re thinking “how does additional bandwidth charges effect net neutrality?” Suppose you have an internet service plan, and you are limited by a bandwidth cap of 75 gigabytes (included in your monthly fee). You would then be subject to additional charges of 1-4 dollars (per gigabyte) if this 75 gigbyte limit is exceeded. Knowing this, you will be more cautious about what kind of content you view online, and this will effect how you are able to use the internet. With more Canadians consuming content and watching video online on Youtube, Netflix…etc, consumers will limit what they watch and how much they watch from the fear of financial reprisals imposed by their internet service providers. Bandwidth caps hinder the amount of content that can be viewed online and stands in direct opposition to the provisos of net neutrality.

Online video is not the only thing effected by bandwidth caps. If you consider that modern operating system updates–downloaded from the net–can exceed 1 gigabyte in file size, this could become financially problematic for consumers. For example: suppose you have to download a critical system update and you are already at your bandwidth limit for the month…you will have to pay your service provider for extra bandwidth in order to download said update. If you need several critical updates the cost could become exorbitant.

The limitations and consumer abuses that could arise from this policy can not be overstated. the internet is far too important to contemporary Canadian society to be restricted so severely. If you think that Bell, Rogers, and the CRTC have gone too far and are not acting in the best interests of Canadians…make your voice heard. Openmedia.ca has launched an online petition that will be sent to prominent Canadian politicians expressing the people’s dissatisfaction with this CRTC ruling. You can sign the petition by visiting the Stopthemeter.ca website by clicking here, or by signing the above petition form directly from this site.†

*It could be said that internet service competition in Canada has always been an illusion because Bell and Rogers own the main networks used to access the global internet. The small ISPs are merely re-branding and reselling Bell’s/Rogers’ internet service.

†Addendum: I have removed the petition that was embedded into this site. If you are still interested in helping stop bandwidth limits in Canada please visit theOpenmedia.ca website.


Posted February 1st, 2011

Categories Internet  Tags , ,