CRTC urged to end Internet data caps and punitive overage charges
June 9, 2016
June 9, 2016 – Data caps have long been one of the most reviled features of Canada’s broken telecom market, but an upcoming consultation by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) could change all that. OpenMedia is today publishing a new report revealing how Canadians are getting a raw deal on data caps, and is urging Canadians to endorse an open letter asking the CRTC to dismantle the data cap regime.
The CRTC’s upcoming consultation on Net Neutrality and Zero-Rating represents the best chance in a generation to ban telecom providers from capping customers’ Internet usage. For wired Internet, data caps in most of the industrialized world are unheard of, whereas for wireless Internet data caps elsewhere are far more generous, with unlimited plans easily available. As OpenMedia’s report reveals, no national mobile provider in Canada offers unlimited data plans.
“Canadians need relief from oppressively low data caps, and the punitive overage charges associated with them,” said Katy Anderson, OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist. “There should be no such thing as ‘too much Internet’, given how essential affordable online access has become to our everyday lives. If we don’t tackle this now, Canada will fall even further behind.”
Anderson continued: “For too long, the telecom giants have used every excuse in the book to justify these unfair caps. But the reality is they’re using these caps to discourage cord-cutting and keep Canadians trapped in expensive cable TV packages that represent terrible value for money. We need the CRTC to step in and put a stop to this price-gouging.”
OpenMedia’s letter to the CRTC sets out a four-point action plan, including:
End Data Caps: The CRTC should entirely prohibit data caps for wired Internet, along with the overage charges that go with them. For wireless, they should bring Canadian data caps into line with international counterparts such as the U.K. where customers have access to unlimited options and nationwide plans with 6GB of data for the equivalent of just $30 a month.
Ban Zero-Rating: Prevent telecom giants from using their power to unfairly privilege certain apps and services over others. Customers, not telecom companies, should be the ones deciding what we read and watch online.
Transparency and Enforcement Mechanisms: Strong, transparent mechanisms to ensure telecom providers comply with Net Neutrality rules, and meaningful penalties for when those rules are broken.
Uphold Net Neutrality: Canadians have already fought for and won open Internet rules to prevent Big Telecom from restricting our access to online services. OpenMedia even flew in some of the original architects of the Internet to the 2009 CRTC hearing where those rules were made. The CRTC should uphold those positive pro-customer rules.
The deadline for initial comments to the CRTC is June 28, 2016.
Canadians can speak out and join the campaign at act.openmedia.org/datacaps
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.
Our report on Data Caps is available on our website. Highlights include:
None of the national mobile providers in Canada offer an unlimited data plan.
At 20GB, the minimum wireline data caps in Canada are over 8 times smaller than the minimum caps offered by the Big Four Internet providers in the U.S.
Bell’s wireline Internet overage charge is the highest ($3-$4 per GB) and Bell also offers the smallest data caps of the 5 companies covered in our report.
Canadian wireline Internet plans are confusing. Canadian providers break their service up into an average of 8 distinct data brackets. By contrast, major U.S. providers, offer customers an average of just 2 data cap options.
- Regional variation in pricing plans is drastically different. A 15GB wireless data plan in Ontario costs twice as much as the identical plan does in Saskatchewan.
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