Small ISPs used to get a decent edge on the larger competition by offering flat rates, or services with obscenely large bandwidth caps. With this regulation, the small ISPs are now forced to pay by the gigabyte, and thus won't have that competitive edge any more. Now they will essentially have to charge more for less internet, in order to maintain a profit. It is the customers and small businesses that are getting shafted by this.
I have never been a fan of bandwidth caps or usage based billing, but to have it forced on us is absolutely disgusting. I am so disturbed and angry that I actually wrote my first letter to my MP:
I am writing as a concerned Canadian citizen over the CRTC introduction of usage-based-billing (UBB) for wholesale Gateway Access Service (Decision 2011-44, available online at http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-44.htm ).I suspect that you have already heard concern over this, and I am adding my voice to the chorus.
It is clear that the forced introduction of this billing model will smother competition in our already monopolized telecom industry – here in [my city], Canadians are offered two companies to choose from when they wish to have internet service. We are fortunate that one of these providers makes flat-fate internet access available, but I fear that would soon change should this regulation be allowed. First, it would eliminate the competitive edge small ISPs have over the larger players. With no reasonable competition remaining, the duopoly of Bell and Rogers would be free to set the prices for their services far higher than any we have seen before. Access to affordable internet services should be treated as a utility, not a luxury, and every Canadian should have the right to quality, affordable internet access.
The large ISPs are quick to point to the myth of the “bandwidth hog” as justification for policies like these, but the truth is it is they who are at fault. It is the large ISPs who are unable to maintain quality infrastructure to meet the demands of their customers – not the fault of customers for desiring to use their service to its fullest potential. Canadian citizens already pay far higher prices for lower quality service, and this change in regulation would do nothing to improve the situation.
Should such a billing scheme become forced on smaller ISPs, is it not the ISPs that will absorb the increased costs – it is the consumer, and the web business they support. Web-based companies that offer services such as digital game distribution (e.g. Steam), pay-per-view streaming movies (Netflix), and pay-per-month online games will be hurt by Canadian’s inability to access their services for free. For example, should a Canadian purchase a modestly-sized downloadable game, UBB could add $20 or more to the total purchase price, potentially driving away Canadian customers. This is clearly anticompetitive for web-based services such as Netflix and YouTube, which are currently the only viable competitors to television services.
A final point for consideration is that the promotion of the UBB scheme makes maintaining open wireless internet access points significantly more costly, potentially forcing the companies that maintain them to remove access to their service. This could be extremely harmful for typical wifi hotspot operators, such as coffee shops, as well as educational institutions and municipalities who offer free wireless internet access.
In protest of Rogers implementing a bandwidth cap on their service, I switched providers. Should Bell Aliant introduce such a billing scheme, I have no competitor to turn to – and so I turn to my government in protest, to ensure fair competition and further the interests of Canadian citizens instead of Canadian monopolies. I urge you to educate yourself on this topic and fight against this disturbing regulatory decision.
I've certainly written more eloquent things, but I hope it gets my point across. It's my first time. :3
There's a few things I left out - such as how UBB could make malicious activities very costly. Leech off your neighbour's wifi? Well, you just cost them $50. Is there a company you don't like? Get on their wifi and download a bunch of big files - you just cost them $70. Got a botnet? You could do thousands of dollars of damage to someone you don't like.
Aurgh. This makes me so angry. I hate telecoms and internet regulation.