Oh no! We suck again!
BCE Inc. is proposing to change the way it bills independent internet service providers who rent portions of its network, changes that small ISPs say will ultimately mean the end of “unlimited” plans for consumers.
In a recent submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Bell proposed introducing usage-based billing instead of a flat rate for wholesale customers, a pricing method the company says is in line with changes it has made to its own retail offerings.
Bell cut its own internet customers from unlimited downloading in 2007.
“The implementation of usage-based billing for this wholesale service represents but a further appropriate step in the evolution of pricing to reflect the realities of the Companies’ need to manage capacity on their networks,” said Denis Henry, Bell Aliant’s vice-president of regulatory and government affairs, and David Palmer, Bell Canada’s director of regulatory affairs, in a joint submission.
Bell is proposing to begin the changes in billing beginning May 31, 2009.
The proposal would effectively kill access to unlimited download plans in Ontario and Quebec, according to Rocky Gaudrault, the chief executive officer of Chatham, Ont.-based independent ISP TekSavvy Solutions.
“If Bell were to be allowed to introduce UBB on this service, a cap of 60GB would be imposed on all of its users, with very heavy penalties per Gigabyte afterwards,” wrote Gaudrault in a letter to his customers on Tuesday, April 14, the last day interested parties could comment on the proposal.
“This would inherently all but remove Unlimited internet services in Ontario/Quebec and potentially cause large increases in internet costs from month to month,” he wrote.
Bell could not be reached for comment.
Proposal follows ruling on ISPs
The company made the proposal in response to a December 2008 ruling from the CRTC requiring Bell to provide wholesale internet service providers access to the same speeds Bell offers.
Smaller ISPs were given access to the networks of phone companies in the first place because the incumbents held a natural infrastructure monopoly, which was initially built through taxpayer funds when they were government-owned. The rules were put in place to boost the number of competitors selling internet access to the public, and thus keep prices down and service levels up.
In March, Bell petitioned the federal government to overturn the ruling, but the company was still required to come up with a plan detailing how it might charge the smaller ISPs for the service.
The proposal, submitted on March 13, introduced the idea of usage-based billing among its solutions, though critics who responded said its inclusion is inappropriate and unnecessary.
“Usage-based billing (UBB) represents a radical change to current practice and is not warranted,” wrote MTS Allstream Inc. vice-president of regulatory affairs Teresa Griffin-Muir.
“It would effectively prevent competitive ISPs from offering flat-rated Internet services, or any other type of offering that didn’t follow Bell’s UBB model, since they would have no means of containing their costs, if their customers were to exceed Bell’s usage caps,” she wrote.
Sources Source CBC
You can complain to the CRTC about this here