Canada vows no limits on Internet downloads

Feb 03, 2011
Industry Minister Tony Clement, pictured in 2009, vowed Thursday to overturn a regulatory ruling that effectively put an end to small Internet service providers offering unlimited downloads.

Canada's industry minister vowed Thursday to overturn a regulatory ruling that effectively put an end to small Internet service providers offering unlimited downloads.

"It is unacceptable that this decision stands and we will reverse this decision," Industry Minister Tony Clement told the House of Commons.

"It is important to protect consumers, innovators and creators, as well as small and medium-sized businesses," he said.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, ruled last week that telecommunications giant Bell can charge wholesalers that lease bandwidth on its network based on usage.

Many of these smaller service providers offered their customers unlimited Internet access at set rates, relying on bandwidth Bell and other big operators are required to lease to them.

Major telecommunications firms Bell and Telus, as well as cable companies Rogers, Shaw and Videotron do not offer unlimited plans and Bell suggested those offered by smaller service providers were congesting its networks.

Nearly 360,000 Canadians signed an online petition calling for the decision to be overturned, fearing it could lead to higher prices as consumers download more and more data such as high resolution movies or play games online.

Earlier CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein defended the ruling, telling a parliamentary committee: "Ordinary Internet users should not be made to pay for the bandwidth consumed by heavy users."

He noted that a very small percentage of consumers are heavy Internet users.

According to the CRTC's Communications Monitoring Report, Canadians used on average 15.4 gigabits per month in 2009.

Likening the Internet to a public utility, von Finckenstein added the CRTC's view remained "that usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing ."

Clement told reporters he felt the CRTC's ruling "would have a huge impact on consumers and would hurt small businesses, would hurt innovators and creators."

He said he understands that bandwidth capacity is a problem, but usage-based billing "is the wrong way to do it."

The CRTC "must go back to drawing board," Clement also tweeted.

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User comments : 37

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gmurphy
5 / 5 (8) Feb 04, 2011
Sanity prevails.
StarDust21
not rated yet Feb 04, 2011
I like that. Although I never busted my 60GB/month and I dl a lot. harper gonna shit in his pants though hahaha
Grallen
5 / 5 (5) Feb 04, 2011
I crested 600 gigs in a month when I re-downloaded my 250 steam games after losing a HDD. I'm fairly appreciative of having a unlimited stream for the few occasions I need it.

BTW: Streaming 1080p to someone over the net requires 4.5 gigs per hour (minimum). We need to build our infrastructure to support this, not impose limits to lower usage.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Feb 04, 2011
Try working from home with an internet cap.

Restrictive bandwidth regulations lower the quality of life and put an additional cost on businesses that have work from home policies. In short it's obstructionist for technological and workplace progress.
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011
IMHO, this is not about user hogs hogging the internet. It is about the telecoms wanting to increase their bottom line. They blame the users who download large quantities of data for slow internet when what they really want to do is charge everyone a per byte fee - just because they can.

An example of this just because they can attitude is text messaging. I do not own a cell-phone, and maybe I never will, however, I am aware that adding text messaging to some "phone plans" results in a 50% or more increase in monthly charges for a service that uses a piddly fraction of the bandwidth of voice data. The only reason telecoms do this is because they can and because people put up with it.

There are other such services in the telecom world where the telecoms charge exorbitant fees for a piddly extra fraction of data. One example, extra voice mail storage. I am sure there are others.

Kudos to those in Canada behind reigning in the Canadian telecoms.
ontheinternets
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2011
A problem in Canada (at least in the east) is that the major network providers for internet are Rogers and Bell. Rogers provides internet access via cable, and they also make money by setting aside bandwidth for broadcast television (this pre-dates their internet service). Bell provides internet access via telephone. Bell traditionally makes money from phone services, and they still do. Bell also makes money from broadcast television over satellite. Rogers and Bell are also the largest mobile communications providers, and they offer data and broadcast plans there as well (and they are very bad in comparison to the rest of the world).

Both Rogers' and Bell's broadcast television business is imminently threatened by the internet, as bandwidth is very near that which is required to meet the perceptual limits of real-time video, and is already enough to satisfy most viewers. In improving their internet services, they lose more than they gain - and so we stagnate.
ontheinternets
3 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011
To elaborate on the above.. the caps resulting from the recent CRTC decision are horrible. My cap was going to go down from 200GB/month to 25GB/month (and $2 per additional GB). As a young user who has never subscribed to broadcast television, this is a problem.

Another problem in Canada is the CRTC. They ostensibly take consumers into consideration in their decisions. However, a major part of their mandate has always been to 'protect' Canadian content -- i.e. Ensure that Canadian-produced and culturally Canadian programming gets significant airplay and money alongside international (-cough- from the US) programming. It applies to music and video, and perhaps more. Predictably, they are somewhat in bed with the record and film industry, as well as broadcasters.. and worse yet, they are relatively unable to regulate the internet. So they themselves are directly threatened by the internet. The government keeps its hands off because it's the CRTC's job, and we all get screwed.
Kingsix
not rated yet Feb 04, 2011
Good work Clement, your telecom companies are real crap up here. I have no doubt that they are constantly looking for ways to justify charging us more for giving us less. This was obviously an attempt to stifle competition. If you look at companies like Wind with their unlimited plans vs Big boys, the one thing keeping everyone from switching right now is coverage. As their coverage keeps growing the biggies must be getting more and more frightened.
Stardust, I am not sure why you think this would upset Harper. Or maybe you think he would "shit his pants" in happiness because its one less thing for his opponents to badmouth the gov over. Although if you have a valid reason, please explain.
Kingsix
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2011
Oh and ontheinternets = right on.
The CRTC Canadian content is pretty much useless soon. They will always have to stick around to be the regulating body, but that Canadian content thing should be gone in a few years.
ontheinternets
not rated yet Feb 04, 2011
Clement is worse than what we had before, but this has been a long, long, long time coming. The regulatory framework and reliance on market principles (where the market naturally can't even exist) shouldn't even work in theory and this has been widely known for all my life. The other party (Liberals) is overall about as responsible for creating this mess, even if out of apathy. It's something the government is probably going to have to take drastic action over, but it has never become a big enough election issue.
Eikka
5 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011
The problem:
Telco hasn't built enough capacity to serve its customers, but still wants to sell high-speed DSL connections at a higher price because customers demand it. If the customers start to actually make use of their connections, the network grinds to a halt.

Solution:
Install arbitrary download limits to persuade customers from not using the capacity that the operator has sold them. Continue to sell high-speed DSL connections without upgrading the infrastructure to match. Make more $$$.

This is happening all over the world, and it's just plain bullshit.
wiyosaya
not rated yet Feb 04, 2011
@ontheinternets - speaking from just south of the border, supposedly their is a treaty in place that currently prevents US border residents from receiving even their own digital OTA stations due to concerns of the signal being too powerful so that it penetrates too deeply into our neighbors in Canada. For example, Channel 21 in Rochester, NY.

Now this could also be industry involvement in that digital OTA has the potential to compete with cable and other pay services in both number of stations that could be received, and video / audio quality.
TBW
not rated yet Feb 04, 2011
Both Rogers' and Bell's broadcast television business is imminently threatened by the internet, as bandwidth is very near that which is required to meet the perceptual limits of real-time video, and is already enough to satisfy most viewers. In improving their internet services, they lose more than they gain - and so we stagnate.


Not sure I understand this statement. Can you elaborate please? The major ISP's, especially Bell and Rogers, have been pushing for IPTV for years.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2011
"Mobile carriers are looking for solutions to a growing problem: mobile data usage is growing fast, and building up their networks to handle all that traffic is an expensive proposition.

The average smartphone user's monthly wireless download traffic doubled in 2010 to 153 megabytes, according to a wireless data report released Tuesday by Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500).

But T-Mobile and Verizon have found an easy culprit to go after: The Cisco report also revealed the top 1% of mobile data users account for 20% of all mobile traffic."
http:/money.cnn.com/2011/02/03/technology/verizon_data_cap/
That's why free markets are best at allocating resources. Why shouldn't people pay per byte?
The current system demonstrates the failure of the 'tragedy of the commons'.
I still suspect there is a 'conspiracy' on the part of the Interent2 members to get the govt to pay for their upgrades.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Feb 05, 2011
The current system demonstrates the failure of the 'tragedy of the commons'.
Verizon's data network is not "the commons". It's Verizon's mobile network.

What on earth are you talking about?

When we talk about net neutrality, which is not Verizon's network and is a commonly owned cabled infrastructure you think the company is getting jobbed. When the company's network is the subject, and it's running like shit because it hasn't been upgraded by the company you call it a tragedy of the commons.

Is there anything you actually do understand?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 05, 2011
Why shouldn't cable or dsl ISPs restrict their data flow to top users?
They own the cable and wire and pay cities for the rights of way.
Beard
5 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2011
@ryggesogn2

Paying per gig is fine, but not if it's at a 10,000% mark up ON TOP OF a monthly flat rate which already more than pays for everything and turns a profit.

StandingBear
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2011
Seems we are never short of panderers to malefactors of great wealth. Small people who against all logic sacrifice there own self interests with no hope of any gain. Such is the insanity of the lower middle class with a delusional identification with a social class that considers them less than the dust under their shoes. Telephone services, and by connection internet services are rightly a public utility that should be owned by governments and not by private interests. Any government that mixes into this game behind the scenes could easily use this fallacy of modern capitalist regimes to take over vital national interests of those entities by simply buying them through front organizations. Suppose a hostile nation with vast amounts of money bought one of the telco giants, and shut it down or tapped or interfered with parts of it shortly before attacking us? The public built most of these telephone systems that the telcos now neglect service on while profiteering on them.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
@ryggesogn2

Paying per gig is fine, but not if it's at a 10,000% mark up ON TOP OF a monthly flat rate which already more than pays for everything and turns a profit.


Find another company. If a company doesn't make a profit, it is no longer in business.
Physmet
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2011
ryggesogn2 - don't you know that telcos and internet providers are the bad guy and are rolling in cash and laughing at their users who they are arbitrarily charging extra money for their services?

What they should really do is just "add capacity"! It costs no money to do so and practically appears instantaneously. The mere thought of charging people for greater bandwidth usage to fund infrastructure expansion is ludicrous!

Oh, and if for reasons I can't comprehend it does cost them money for infrastructure, they should just cut the top CEO's salaries to pay for our usage...that would be the decent thing to do.

* end of sarcasm *
MorituriMax
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011
To those who advocate caps to combat those damn "hogs."

Netflix
iTunes
Online Television
Video Calling, ala Skype
High Quality video Podcasting, ala TWIT's Leo Laporte
need I go on?

Instead of the Telecoms holding us back in the 1950s they need to invest some of those billions they spend on advertising and lobbying congress toward activating all the excess fiber out there and adding more infrastructure for us potential Hogs.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
To those who advocate caps to combat those damn "hogs."

Netflix
iTunes
Online Television
Video Calling, ala Skype
High Quality video Podcasting, ala TWIT's Leo Laporte
need I go on?

Instead of the Telecoms holding us back in the 1950s they need to invest some of those billions they spend on advertising and lobbying congress toward activating all the excess fiber out there and adding more infrastructure for us potential Hogs.

They are waiting for the government to fund Internet2.
"U.S. United Community Anchor Network, or UCAN. The project is a program from the international Internet2 organization to provide advanced Internet connectivity and services to 200,000 so-called "community anchor institutions" across the country.

These sites include public libraries, schools, community colleges, health care facilities and public safety operations.

UCAN is receiving $62 million in federal funding for the project."
https:/www.mcnc.org/node/1499
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
"Researchers funded by the federal government want to shut down the internet and start over, citing the fact that at the moment there are loopholes in the system whereby users cannot be tracked and traced all the time. "
"Of course, Internet 2 would be greatly regulated and only "appropriate content" would be accepted by an FCC or government bureau. Everything else would be relegated to the "slow lane" internet, the junkyard as it were. Our techie rulers are all too keen to make us believe that the internet as we know it is "already dead".

Google is just one of the major companies preparing for internet 2 by setting up hundreds of "server farms" through which eventually all our personal data - emails, documents, photographs, music, movies - will pass and reside."
http:/www.infowars.net/articles/april2007/170407internet.htm
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
SH sides with Soros and ACORN. He he wonders why he is called a socialist.
"GOA was one of the charter members of Save the Internet, but a spokesman for the gun rights group said times have changed.

"Back in 2006 we supported net neutrality, as we had been concerned that AOL and others might continue to block pro-second amendment issues," said Erich Pratt, communications director for GOA.

"The issue has now become one of government control of the Internet, and we are 100 percent opposed to that," Pratt said."
http:/thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/115367-as-elections-near-net-neutrality-backers-challenged-by-moveonorg-and-acorn-ties
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011
Why shouldn't people pay per byte?


Because bytes don't matter. The problem isn't how much people download overall, because it doesn't cost anyone any more.

The problem is when people download, because the operators always oversell the network capacity to make better use of equipment. Their fault is in selling people more and faster connections than they can sustain and risking that at any given time too many of those heavy users come online.

It's like a highway. It doesn't matter if someone drives 50,000 miles per year down that very same road, and some old granny only drives 1,000 miles per year. That in itself doesn't cause congestion. What does cause is too many people trying to drive down the same road at the same time.

Making the drivers pay per mile travelled won't help congestion - it just makes driving more expensive.

ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
Of course bytes matter.
Compare the amount of useful information/byte in one movie frame with a static web page.
What does cause is too many people trying to drive down the same road at the same time.

Heavy road users pay higher taxes. Imagine limiting the size of every vehicle on the road to 2000 lbs. The freight now carried by one heavy truck would have to be dispersed to hundreds of cars.
Maybe heavy video users will have to figure out how to put package their product so it doesn't clog the 'highways'.
Beard
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011
There is no way you can justify charging 2-4 dollars for something that costs one cent (and dropping) to transfer. Remember that this is an overcharge on top of the monthly static fee which, by itself, works just fine for every other country on earth.

There will be no where else to take your business either, since Canada has no foreign competition and the result of the UBB would remove independent ISPs. You would be forced to get gouged.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2011
There is no way you can justify charging 2-4 dollars for something that costs one cent (and dropping) to transfer. Remember that this is an overcharge on top of the monthly static fee which, by itself, works just fine for every other country on earth.

There will be no where else to take your business either, since Canada has no foreign competition and the result of the UBB would remove independent ISPs. You would be forced to get gouged.

Why not advocate for nationalization of the internet? You will get the same quality and service you get from the Canadian health care system.
ekim
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
Making the drivers pay per mile travelled won't help congestion - it just makes driving more expensive.

I believe what your referring to is called a fuel tax. In many countries it is used to pay for infrastructure.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
Imagine limiting the size of every vehicle on the road to 2000 lbs. The freight now carried by one heavy truck would have to be dispersed to hundreds of cars.


That still doesn't change the argument. It's still not about how much you download, but when you download. The cars could roll down the road at 4am when there's no other traffic.


I believe what your referring to is called a fuel tax. In many countries it is used to pay for infrastructure.


In many countries it's not, like in mine. Cars are simply cash cows for the state, because people have to drive. Approximately 11% of the fuel tax collected is put to improving road infrastructure.

Besides, fuel tax isn't in direct relationship to how many miles you drive, because different cars use different amounts of fuel. Some politicians are actually suggesting a GPS based road tax where you do pay for every mile travelled, again "to help congestion", which it won't because it affects the amount, not the distribution.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2011
The average data usage they list for an average Canadian is nothing. It equates to 64 MB per day. That is nothing for an ISP to worry about. If your infrastructure can't handle someone needing 64 MB per day, you need to fix your system. That's about 8 minutes downloading at 1Mb/s.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2011
That still doesn't change the argument. It's still not about how much you download, but when you download. The cars could roll down the road at 4am when there's no other traffic.

If you want to stream HD video, you want and need those bytes NOW.
ontheinternets
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
Both Rogers' and Bell's broadcast television business is imminently threatened by the internet, as bandwidth is very near that which is required to meet the perceptual limits of real-time video, and is already enough to satisfy most viewers. In improving their internet services, they lose more than they gain - and so we stagnate.


Not sure I understand this statement. Can you elaborate please? The major ISP's, especially Bell and Rogers, have been pushing for IPTV for years.


I'm late replying.. but anyway,

Fast internet with high cap internet provides a platform where other distributors and technologies can compete on a level playing field. That is in contrast to the current state where Rogers sets up their internet services with a low up/download cap, and reserves the rest of their capacity to exclusively broadcast their content. If you want large amounts of hi-def television streamed to your home, you've got to take what Rogers is broadcasting (and pay for it).
ontheinternets
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
It's somewhat similar for Bell, since they have established satellite offerings. Though they've had lower capacity so far, I am curious about how they plan to use their new lines (I suspect they'll be jackasses and reserve most of it for 'premium' speed and exclusive television broadcast for as long as they can get away with it).
TBW
not rated yet Feb 07, 2011
Okay, ontheinternets, I get where you're coming from now.
Thanks.
Beard
not rated yet Feb 08, 2011
The average data usage they list for an average Canadian is nothing. It equates to 64 MB per day. That is nothing for an ISP to worry about. If your infrastructure can't handle someone needing 64 MB per day, you need to fix your system. That's about 8 minutes downloading at 1Mb/s.


I have a feeling they included the remote communities with only dial-up access into their average.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 20, 2011

If you want to stream HD video, you want and need those bytes NOW.


So you save up your monthly quota to make that video call to granny in Iowa. Then you decide to call her at 4 pm when everybody else is on the net.

Did the quota help the network congestion?

No.

You're just paying more for the same thing.

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