Jan 29 2011
I have been following (with interest) the saga of Canada’s big internet providers attempting to push through UBB - Usage Based Internet Billing.
They have already reduced their own offerings to a selection of pittiful overpriced plans with small caps, but they were still forced to allow third party providers (who piggyback on their networks) to provide much more reasonable plans.
We are a digital household - every member of our family is connected to the internet in one fashion or another, we use Netflix, rent movies on our AppleTV, download Xbox games and content, send and receive video files, I backup huge amounts of data (such as my iPhoto library) offsite, and we also surf a lot. It’s not uncommon for us to exceed 100 gigs per month, occasionally more if I import a bunch of video into iPhoto which subsequently gets backed up offsite.
Currently, I currently pay about $40 per month for 200 Gigs of DSL on a dryloop connection through an independent DSL provider called Teksavvy.
However, the independents are the exception to the rule when it comes to the current realities of ISP’s in Canada. Not happy with allowing their customers to enjoy a reasonable amount of bandwidth for a set price, they have been on a mission for the last few years to castrate the internet by reducing bandwidth limits.
Their problem was that they were only doing it to themselves (and their own customers), while the independents still offered cheap and plentiful internet to their customers. If you were a savvy consumer, you soon ditched Bell, Rogers and Shaw and moved to an independent ISP who offered better service for less money.
Well, no more. The CRTC approved UBB (Usage Based Billing) this past week, and now we’re all screwed.
So, I currently pay ~$46 for 200 Gigs. Lets compare - for a similar amount of money, Bell Canada would provide me with 25 Gigs. For an extra $5 I can get a whole extra 40 gigs for a total of 65 gigs for MORE then I now pay for 200 Gigs. Rogers? $46.00 per month will get me 60 Gigs.
Both Bell and Rogers pride themselves on their blistering speeds (Rogers offers up to 50mbps on their top of the line plan, for example) - but what good is a huge pipe if you can use your entire bandwidth allowance in mere minutes if you actually utilize the service to it’s limits? Even Rogers 50 Megabit plan includes only 175 Gigs per month for a steep $99 per month price tag.
Today I received an email from the president of my ISP, Teksavvy.
As some of you know, the CRTC recently rendered a decision forcing all independent DSL and Cable Internet providers to substantially match incumbent (like Bell) usage rate caps. This will influence all of our internet service packages eventually, but DSL residential customers in Ontario and Quebec first, as of March 1. Along with you, we are not pleased with this, and our view is more fully expressed in our press release which you can find here: http://www.teksavvynews.com/
From March 1 on, users of the up to 5 Mbps packages in Ontario can expect a usage cap of 25GB (60GB in Quebec), substantially down from the 200GB or unlimited deals TekSavvy was able to offer before the CRTC’s decision to impose usage based billing. Users who were on unlimited package rates will be returned to $31.95 capped rates although larger blocks of bandwidth can be purchased.*
In order to facilitate this transition we have constructed a new easy-to-navigate portal at https://myworld.teksavvy.com where our customers can choose from the amended and new packages.
The details of our new rate plans and charges can be found there. You will be able to register using the account information found at the end of this email. More on the portal below. In addition, in order to accommodate these changes, we have amended our Terms of Service, primarily regarding implementation. The amended Terms form part of your Agreement with TekSavvy and can be viewed at https://secure.teksavvy.com/en/termspolicies.asp.
Please note if you do not choose a new service before March 1, 2011, your existing package will be transitioned into an amended package. Existing packages and the ones they will be replaced with in each case can be found at http://teksavvy.com/en/faq-ubb_on.asp for Ontario and http://teksavvy.com/en/faq-ubb_qc.asp for Quebec.
Content and data like Netflix, YouTube, IPTV, large file downloads or other streaming services can consume large amounts of bandwidth and place your cap limits in jeopardy very quickly. We encourage you to monitor your usage carefully, as the CRTC has imposed a very high overage rate, above your new monthly limit, of $1.90 per gigabyte ($2.35 per gigabyte in Quebec).
The CRTC did however provide an option for insurance usage blocks at $4.75 per 40GB block per month, which can be purchased if you want to reduce your cost for use above 25GB (60GB in Quebec).
Ontario and Quebec up to 5 Mbps users with a monthly limit of 25GB and 60GB respectively:
Insurance Blocks Offered:
* $4.75 - 40GB extra usage
* $9.50 - 80GB extra usage
* $14.25 - 120GB extra usage (maximum 3 blocks)
* $55.00 - 275GB extra usage (maximum 240GB extra usage in Quebec)
I feel bad for companies like Teksavvy (as well as many other small independent ISP’s) as this will KILL them. They survived on being not only the “Little guy”, but also by being able (and willing) to offer the consumer an excellent deal. Now they have been priced to fall lockstop with the big ISP’s and their competitive advantage is virtually gone.
Add to this the fact that the backbone providers are also refusing to allow them access to the higher speed offerings they themselves offer, the independents are being squeezed for all their worth. Squeezed right out of business, perhaps.
Oh wait, is that the plan, big guys?
The best option above will be for me to pay an extra $14.25 per month for an extra 120 Gigs, which will give me 145 gigs - less than what I received before, for $15 more.
Currently I pay $46 Per Month for 200 Gigs.
I’ll now pay about $63 Per month for 145 Gigs thanks to UBB.
This has incensed me. I don’t blame my ISP since they’ve made it clear since day one they are strongly against UBB, but I DO blame the CRTC, Bell Canada, Shaw, and Rogers - the big internet companies that were behind the push to put UBB in place.
And I’m not alone - Canadians everywhere are fuming.
Over 83,000 Canadians (and counting) have signed the Open Media Petition against UBB. If YOU haven’t, please do - the future of affordable internet in Canada depends on this!
I could go on for hours about this…but I’ll closed with this.
Dear CRTC - Canadians are pissed with this stupid decision you’ve made, and a groundswell of angry consumers is brewing. You’d best reconsider, before you’re TOLD to reconsider, because the shit is about to hit the fan.