CRTC UBB decision good first step: New Democrats

Rejection of usage-based Internet billing will help, but Conservatives still have no plan for digital issues

OTTAWA- New Democrat Digital Issues critic Charlie Angus said today’s CRTC decision to move away from wholesale usage-based Internet billing caps was good news for Canadian families and consumers. The Commission embraced a mixed model that includes both a flat rate and capacity-based billing models.

“While Stephen Harper was ready to watch consumers get gouged, New Democrats have shown leadership on this issue from the start. We’re happy to see the CRTC finally listen to voices against usage-based billing,” Angus said. “Allowing big telecom companies to reach into the pockets of struggling families and ask for even more money is just plain wrong.”

Angus added that while this decision is a good first step, it only affects wholesale clients, about 6% of the market. He called on the government to do more to protect consumers from other unfair billing practices and bandwidth caps, as is currently standard practice for many telecom companies.

The October, 2010 CRTC ruling that allowed telecom companies such as Bell and Rogers to charge Independent Service Providers (ISPs) for bandwidth usage led to an outpouring of concern. Critics charged that consumers would be hit with unfair price increases and that smaller ISPs would be shoved out of the market—resulting in less competition.

After immense pressure from New Democrats and the public, the Harper Conservatives and the CRTC agreed to review the ruling. The CRTC received over 100,000 comments from the public during its review process.

“Canada is already falling behind other countries in terms of choice, accessibility and pricing for the Internet,” said NDP Deputy Digital Affairs Critic Pierre Dionne Labelle. “Today’s decision is a first step towards bringing Canada into the 21st century.”

“New Democrats know that families and consumers are already being ripped off when it comes to their cell phones, their Internet and their credit cards—while Stephen Harper stands idly by,” Dionne Labelle said. “That’s why we fought so hard against usage-based billing. It’s time to give families a much-needed break.”