CRTC’s permission of Internet Usage Based Billing by the “Big 3”


By  The National Ethnic Press and Media Counsil


The Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (EPMC), consisting of more than 80 third-language publications and other print and electronic media, strongly protests the CRTC’s decision of last October to allow Bell, Rogers and Telus, Canada’s largest communications giants, to charge internet access and video downloads  hundreds of dollars more per month.

Essentially, we wish to strongly protest the recent CRTC decision to allow Bell Canada (and by extension the other Bell-application supporters Rogers Cable and Telus) to charge Internet (Broadband) customers through Usage Based Billing (UBB). This decision, indirectly, gave ownership of the free Internet (a worldwide free information, education and entertainment resource) to the “big 3” telecommunication corporations who now become the “oligopoly of the three”. In addition, this unacceptable decision has also eliminated from the market their competing small Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which were providing up to the end of January 2011 unlimited discounted broadband video downloads to their customers at approximately $30 per month. Despite the “corrective CRTC decision” to force the “big 3” to discount by 15% the wholesale fee charged to small “third-party” ISPs, this is only the ISP’s profit margin with almost nothing to be passed over to consumers. These “Big 3” Corporations, and especially their conglomerate counterparts in the USA, have purposely created the controversy of such self-serving issues of “Net Neutrality” and “Net Throttling” to enlarge their profit margin and investment portfolios, and all in the absence of the unsuspecting public. To do it with the blessing of the CRTC is a betrayal of public interest and trust for which it was created.

Essentially, what now on average costs consumers $45-60 per month to connect, through the “Big 3”s distribution “pipes”,  to the broadband as long as they wish, with UBB billing method Bell and the other “Big 3”will charge customers $1 to $2 per extra GB (Giga Bites) over and above the above monthly charge (which usually includes from 25-75 GBs depending on the company connecting  you to the internet) to download up to 300 GBs of video downloads at an extra $60 per month. But many fear the $120 per month to access the free Internet is a shameless profit for the “big 3” whose cost is hardly 2 cents per GB.

The mainstream media, unfortunately, have only recently given little or no prominence to this issue because the extra cost will affect only a minority of heavy users of internet television video downloads in the main-stream consumer society ( such as users of movies by NetFlix etc). Of course, the general public remains largely uninformed of an issue that, in the months and years to come, will heavily impact into their pockets. Ofcours, more than three hundred thousand citizens have petitioned the federal government to reverse the CRTC decision.

Why, then, this issue becomes of such great concern to the Ethnic Press and Media Council? Simply, because it is the members of the ethno-cultural and third-language communities that will mostly negatively be affected by this outrageous decision by a Government Agency which presumably exists to protect the public interest and not the bottom-line of huge corporations.

The main-stream consumer has the multi-media option to watch television or video programs  at a reasonable and competitive monthly cost (either through Free-to-Air broadcasting, or traditional cable or satellite feeds) without depending on the broadband connection for television viewing. This is not the case with the ethno-cultural consumers. The few CRTC Canadian ethnic television Licensees unfortunately, mainly due to large production and distribution costs, offer low local quality programming and limited choice  of home-country television viewing at a very high monthly cost per channel, so that most of the ethno-cultural consumers download television through free websites or low subscription fees in the Internet. Therefore, the average video-download GBs needed for such viewing exceeds 160 GBs per month.

UBB connection to the broadband will cost hundreds of dollars per month, forcing our consumers become hostage to the big corporations which, with the blessing of our Government, not only can charge us for use of their “pipes” to distribute to our homes the free Internet but also to charge per content which they do not own. In addition, the average consumer-and especially in our immigrant communities- is not capable of checking how many GBs they are charged by the “oligopoly of the 3”.

We ask of our Government to reverse the CRTC decision on UBB or in the alternative to force the “big 3” to cap ethnic web-television download costs to no more than $ 35.00 per month for both the connection fee and including 150 GBs per month. Such action not only will encourage investment in new media development, but it is absolutely vital to the preservation of our ethno-cultural heritage and well-being of our communities.

On behalf of the all the members of the Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada,

The President, Tom Saras

cc: - The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

      -The Hon. Tony Clement, Minister of Industry

      - The Hon.  Moore James, Minister of Canadian Heritage and \official


      -  CRTC Chairman: Mr. K. von Finckenstein