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Canada Forces Pay-by-the-Byte Metered Internet on Unhappy Citizens

80beatsBy Patrick MorganFebruary 2, 2011 11:27 PM


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While Egyptians were enduring an internet blackout in recent weeks, Canadians were--and still are--dealing with an Internet problem of an entirely different degree: the onslaught of metered Internet usage. Citizens are raising their voices in protest, though, and are fighting back against the "Internet-attackers." Also called "usage-based billing," metered Internet appears to be bad news for Canada's smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but good news for the giants like Bell. Smaller ISPs were profitable because they could rent bandwidth from the larger companies and only pay according to the number of customers they had, and not based on how heavily those customers used the Internet. But a recent decision from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is allowing these larger companies to charge according to the number of gigabytes used. So far, the story is playing in a backwards David-and-Goliath way in terms of how it's affecting smaller ISPs:

One example is the small ISP TekSavvy, which under the ruling will be forced to ... set the data ceiling at 25GB a month and charge customers between $1.90 and $2.35 for each additional gigabyte. TekSavvy formerly offered 200GB or unlimited options, which will be wiped away by the CRTC’s new regulations. According to an e-mail sent out to its subscribers, its premium, unlimited plan users pay $31.95 for will now only get them 25GB per month. [Digital Trends]

What does this mean for Canadians as they sit back with their computers to watch a movie, for example, or download music?

"Extensive web surfing, sharing music, video streaming, downloading and playing games, online shopping and email," could put users over the 25GB cap, TekSavvy warns. Also, watch out "power users that use multiple computers, smartphones, and game consoles at the same time." [Ars Technica]

But there is still hope for the average Canadian--government officials are scrutinizing this decision, and could still choose to overturn it.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government would decide by March 1 whether to accept the decision, send it back for review, or reject it.... "This is a very important issue for consumers, for small business, and for innovators," Clement said following a cabinet meeting in Ottawa. [CBC News]

Related Content: 80beats: Will Wireless Carriers Soon Get Their Dream—Internet That Works Like Pay-Per-View? 80beats: Opinions: What Google and Verizon’s Plan for Net Neutrality Means 80beats: “Do Not Track?” FTC Proposes an Opt-Out for Internet Users DISCOVER: The "Father of the Internet" Would Rather You Call Him "Vint" DISCOVER: Is It Time to Chuck the Internet and Start Over?

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