Bell Backs Down as the Internet Becomes an Election Issue
March 28, 2011
March 28, 2011 – As more and more Canadians are making the Internet – that is, its extremely high prices and limited access - an election issue, telecom giant Bell Canada is getting ready to change its tune.
OpenMedia.ca has learned that Bell has buckled under public pressure and will propose an alternative scheme for the imposition of usage fees on independent ISPs. Bell is expected to come out with its plan this afternoon: today is the filing deadline for the first round of submissions to the CRTC's usage-based billing (UBB) hearing.
Clearly, Bell is squirming under pressure from nearly half-a-million Canadians. This development comes on the heels of OpenMedia.ca's attendance at the CRTC forum on the future of Intenet governance last week. This was supposed be a closed-door invitation-only meeting, but the Commission invited OpenMedia.ca in response to public pressure.
"We're pleased that Canadians will now have the option to use indie ISPs like Teksavvy and Acanac to access the unlimited Internet," said OpenMedia.ca's Executive Director Steve Anderson. "This is a giant step forward for the Stop The Meter campaign, and a victory for those who support competition and choice in Canada's Internet service market."
"While this is a positive move, it is only a Band-Aid solution to a much larger problem. We at OpenMedia.ca hope the CRTC takes Bell's submission as a sign that widespread usage-based billing is not an acceptable model for Internet pricing, and that it creates policy to support the affordable Internet."
The fundamental structural problems in the telecom industry remain: approximately 94% of Canadians use big phone and cable companies, many of which are still imposing usage fees on their customers. These usage fees are out of step with global standards for Internet price and speed, and Canadians will not be happy until they are ensured affordable access to an open Internet.
The usage-based billing issue will continue to heat up as the election progresses. Candidates can show that they are onside with voters by endorsing the Stop The Meter campaign as many have already. Canadians will not be satisfied until the stranglehold that Big Telecom has over our country's communications is removed.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
OpenMedia.ca is a national, non-partisan, non-profit public engagement organization working to advance and support an open and innovative communications system in Canada. Our primary goal is to increase public awareness and informed participation in Canadian media, cultural, information, and telecommunications policy formation.
About Stop The Meter
In October, Canadians were outraged by the news that the CRTC had decided to allow Bell and other big Internet service providers (ISPs) to impose new fees on independent ISPs – usage-based billing. Now every Internet user in Canada is likely to feel the sting of a less affordable Internet, and a less competitive Internet service market. Recognizing the importance of this issue, OpenMedia.ca launched the Stop The Meter campaign.
Since its inception, this multi-platform petition, based at http://www.StopTheMeter.ca and in French at http://openmedia.ca/compteur, has become a record breaker and a game changer. Over 475,000 names have now been added to the website, Facebook, Twitter, and in print.
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.
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