Canada Free & Open Internet

City of Vancouver Calls Out CRTC on Behalf of its Residents

Vancouver becomes first city to ask CRTC to disallow usage-based Internet billing

December 16, 2010 – The City of Vancouver today passed a groundbreaking motion in opposition to usage-based Internet billing, calling on the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) to disallow financial penalties for ‘too much’ Internet use.
Councillor Andrea Reimer introduced the motion at a City Council meeting today, where it was debated extensively and passed with only one councilor opposed.

Reimer argued that the CRTC’s usage-based billing (UBB) policy, which allows big telecom companies to impose a limit-based pricing system on the independent Internet Service Providers (indie ISPs) that purchase wholesale broadband from them, will stifle innovation, harm job creation, and make it more difficult for individuals to access online services. She stated that in order “to protect democracy, we absolutely must protect access to information, and that’s what this bill seeks to do.”

The usage-based billing motion was a response to the public outcry against UBB, which grew rapidly after the issue was brought to light by, a nonprofit organization working to advance open communications systems in Canada. The group’s petition, called “Stop The Meter” (on Internet use), rallied together nearly 22,000 citizens in support of a more affordable public Internet. More about the petition at:

Reilly Yeo,’s Managing Director, appeared at City Hall to speak about the issue:

“City Council can now send a strong signal to the CRTC, which can still reverse this move,” said Yeo to those gathered in the Council Chamber. “We've learned from past experiences with the CRTC that these kinds of gestures definitely matter; they've mattered in some of the good decisions in the past that have supported innovation. So we're asking you to take an action that will matter today.”

Councillor Suzanne Anton, and the sole party in Council opposing the motion, commented regarding the importance of Telus as a corporation with a head office in Vancouver, the relevance of Big Telecom’s investments in broadband infrastructure, and the role of the City of Vancouver in intervening. The City Manager responded by stating that a recommendation to the CRTC is not outside the scope of City Council’s mandate, and that the city is “very much a player in this.” Additionally Councillor Reimer pointed out that the broadband infrastructure was set up as a business decision that was never contingent upon this very recently proposed pricing structure. stands firmly behind the motion in Vancouver, and hopes that other municipal and provincial governments will follow suit.

Steve Anderson, National Coordinator of, had this to say: “We are very pleased that the City of Vancouver has taken the initiative to stop Internet metering, and the unjust financial limitations on Canadians’ Internet use and online choice. Today’s step forward is one that moves us toward a more open and affordable Internet, and away from this impediment to consumer choice, access, and innovation. The CRTC’s decision is a job killer and will act is a muzzle on creative expression.”

Opposition to this motion also came, unsurprisingly, via the media from the big telecom companies that seek to impose usage-based billing on their customers and independent competitors. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, a representative from Telus went so far as to call the citizens and small businesses that consume more data than the amount deemed appropriate by major ISPs, “online abusers”.

Anderson’s responded to this, saying, “Big Telecom should not be free to define what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ amount of Internet usage while their interests are clearly out of line with those of Canadians, who are integrating broadband into more and more facets of their everyday lives. The imposition of usage-based billing, and its control by major ISPs, dooms our broadband marketplace to permanent second-class status in the global digital economy.”



Lindsey Pinto
Communications Manager,
[email protected]

About is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization working to advance and support an open and innovative communications system in Canada. Its primary goal is to increase public awareness and informed participation in Canadian media, cultural, information, and telecommunication policy formation.

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