from the abuse-by-the-byte dept
In 2008 we noted how Canadian incumbent phone company Bell Canada began throttling smaller wholesale ISP traffic before delivery -- without bothering to tell anyone. In short, Bell wanted to make sure that smaller, independent ISPs that were reselling Bell's bandwidth weren't able to offer services that were superior to their own throttled and capped DSL service. Independent ISPs complained, and Canadian regulators (CRTC) largely ignored them. Now reader Slatemass writes in to direct our attention to the fact that the CRTC has also approved another Bell plan to begin charging all (wholesale and retail) customers per-byte overages up to $1.13 per gigabyte. Needless to say, operators of smaller ISPs are rather angry:
"The rates are absolutely atrocious. How the hell are we doing above one dollar for extra usage?" said Rocky Gaudrault, president of Chatham, Ont.-based Teksavvy. "It's in the thousands of multiples beyond what the costs are." Gaudrault said Bell also continues to have an advantage over smaller ISPs in that it is able to offer superior speeds. The CRTC issued an order in December 2008 that gave wholesale ISPs access to the faster networks of phone companies such as Bell and Telus, but the federal government last year ordered the regulator to reconsider the decision."
To be clear: this shouldn't be confused with pure "billing by the byte." The low cap and high overage model (which Time Warner Cable tried -- and failed -- to impose in the U.S. last year) simply jacks up prices "thousands of multiples beyond what the costs are" on top of the already high flat rate price -- ensuring that consumers wind up paying significantly more money for the same service. Bell also wants to ensure resellers can't offer a flat-rate pricing model that could better compete with their expensive capped DSL services. Of course Bell couldn't get away with this kind of obnoxious pricing were there more competition -- but just like in the States, most Canadian customers lack the option to be able to vote with their wallets.