February 1, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In the wake of over 265,000 signatures collected by Open Media as of today (with the count still rising), Canada’s Conservative minority government finally spoke. The verdict: the recent ruling by CRTC to allow usage-based billing for internet services in Canada will be carefully reviewed. Both the Liberal and NDP parties have spoken out against the ruling and have urged the Conservative government to overturn the ruling.
A point of interest is that, as the Globe and Mail reports:
The government review of the decision comes about one year after Mr. Clement overturned a CRTC decision ruling that Globalive, which now operates the Wind Mobile cellphone brand, violated foreign ownership rules and couldn’t launch service. It also comes during the run-up to a looming wireless licence auction in which established and new providers will bid billions of dollars for slices of the airwaves.
Perhaps that’s cause for some hope, as the review takes place. Regardless, this is a fantastic step in the right direction. Let’s keep on pushing!
If you haven’t already, you can still sign the petition against usage-based internet billing at StoptheMeter.ca.
January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last Tuesday, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) ruled in favour of usage-based billing for internet services in Canada. What this means is that internet providers have received the green light to start charging Canadians for the internet bandwidth they use, similar to how users are currently billed for their cell phone useage. The ruling has been hotly contested by user internet advocacy groups, such as Open Media, which has since started a petition that has been signed by over 107,000 people as of today.
What’s troubling about the ruling is that the CRTC is intended to be an independent, government-sanctioned regulatory body. It’s mandate is to “ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public”, using the “objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions”. In this case, it’s really the Telecommunications Act that is the relevant Act, and if you review the objectives outlined within the Act itself (I’ve taken the liberty of including the pertinent ones below), you’ll notice the Act isn’t exactly vague about what CRTC’s telecommunications policies should support.
It is hereby affirmed that telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada’s identity and sovereignty and that the Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives
- to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions;
- to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;
- to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness, at the national and international levels, of Canadian telecommunications;
- to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective;
- to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services;