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Pay-as-you go meters will see internet users charged PER GIGABYTE in Canada

Published: February 2, 2011
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Source: Daily Mail

Canada set to introduce new billing system next month

We have become accustomed to receiving unlimited access to the internet for a set monthly payment.

But all that is to change in Canada next month when people will have to pay for what they use with a new metering system.

The go-ahead for pay-as-you-go came last September when Canada's Radio-Telecommunications Commission ruled Bell Canada could implement the new system.

Bell, the country's largest telecommunications company, has now decided to take advantage of the decision which means that instead of a flat fee, subscribers will pay for content per gigabyte. Furthermore, there will be a limit to how much data can be downloaded.

Controversial: Canadian Internet subscribers are to be charged by the gigabyte for content, meaning prices will rise while data download limits are reduced

Advocates of the new system argue the measures are unlikely to affect most people, only those who constantly stream video and music.

The system will mean higher bills for both Bell subscribers and those using other internet service providers.

This is because although the ISPs provide the 'last mile of access' for customers they too will have to shoulder a higher burden by linking to the Bell network.

Internet service providers have been publishing their new data plans, and the revised charges have met with a barrage of criticism.

'Like our customers, and Canadian internet users everywhere, we are not happy with this new development,' wrote the Ontario-based independent service provider TekSavvy in an e-mail message to its subscribers.

Bell Canada, the country's largest telecommunications company, is to begin usage-based billing for Internet access

On March 1, TekSavvy members face a new monthly usage cap of 25GB - substantially down from the 200GB or unlimited deals it could offer before usage-based billing.

And the company is warning that extensive web surfing, sharing music, video streaming, downloading and playing games, online shopping and emailing is likely to put users over the 25GB cap.

Teksavvy's chief executive Officer Rocky Gaudrault is leading the growing opposition to the increases.

Hundreds of Canadians, meanwhile, have been venting their anger on YouTube.

The uproar has prompted the Canadian government to join the debate, according to science website, with Industry Minister Tony Clement saying he will review a federal telecommunications regulator’s decision to effectively kill off plans offering unlimited internet access.

The decision triggered widespread outrage from a variety of consumer and citizens’ groups, with small business owners warning it will thwart their ability to use online services such as video and teleconferencing.

Mr Clement said in an interview: 'I am hearing from a lot of people who feel this will damage our economy. They are worried this will stifle innovation.'

The minister said he will study the Telecommunications Commission's decision to see how it squares with the government’s commitment to encourage competition and consumer choice.

He’ll then make a recommendation to Cabinet on how to proceed.

Monthly download limits have been in place since at least 2006, but most internet users rarely found themselves exceeding the caps.

Businesses have become more reliant on the internet as well for functions such as serving customers, communicating with distant offices and purchasing downloadable software.

They object to the suggestion that those most affected by the CRTC decision are simply people using internet connections to watch movies and other entertainment.

Large companies such as Bell, which argued for the right to levy an even more expensive charge to small providers, say their networks are expensive to maintain and that the internet business provides a slow return on investment.

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