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Friday, February 04, 2011
Canada Delays Usage-Based Billing For Internet Users

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC,) the country's broadcast regulator, late Thursday announced that it would delay its plans to end unlimited online access packages offered by small Internet service providers (ISPs).

"Our decisions were set to take effect on March 1, 2011. We have since received from Bell Canada a request that we delay the implementation date by 60 days. A party from our last proceeding, Vaxination Informatique, has also filed a request for a delay," said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC.

In light of these requests and the evident concerns expressed by Canadians, the Commission has decided to delay the implementation of usage-based billing for wholesale customers by at least 60 days.

The Commission added that it would will also launch a review of its decision to verify that:

- it protects consumers
- those who use the Internet heavily pay for their excess use, and
- Small ISPs retain maximum flexibility and continue to be a key source of innovation in the industry.

CRTC Chairman also reiterated the Commission?s view that usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing Internet services.

"We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities, and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users. For us, it is a question of fundamental fairness. Let me restate: ordinary users should not be forced to subsidize heavy users," he said.

"In addition, we want to be absolutely certain that the modalities we have established are the most flexible under the circumstances and do not hinder innovation or harm Small ISPs," he added.

The feds disagree, and instead back Internet user groups that raised the alarm last week over the CRTC ruling major ISPs like Bell Canada and Rogers Communications can determine usage rates, including overage fees, charged by smaller resellers using their bandwith.

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