Canada's first man in space vows to fight for "open and innovative internet" in Parliament
A couple of weeks ago, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that Internet service providers could bill their customers based on usage. This means that, like text messaging and cellular phone calling, they could impose a cap on the time or amount of data downloaded from the internet. Citizens’ groups and small telecom providers are upset that the CRTC has allowed usage-based billing to go ahead, which allows large internet service providers to raise rates and reduce download limits for consumers.
The implications for such a decision could be far-reaching and impact virtually every segment of our society. Schools and universities, hospitals, non-profits, businesses of all kinds, and individuals would be hit with another fee.
Those that would benefit from such a rate structure are the large telecommunication companies that have been largely protected from competition within Canada. All of these firms posted very healthy profits in their last reported quarters. Bell’s was the highest at $1.8 billion.
The CRTC’s rationale for agreeing to this is not clear to me. What is clear is that these firms see an opportunity to develop a new revenue stream.
You can’t blame them for trying.
The Liberal Party of Canada is standing up for Canadian consumers by opposing the decision of the CRTC to allow for fees based on internet usage. In today’s information economy, there is no choice but to say no to this.
Liberal Industry, Science and Technology Critic Marc Garneau – also Canada’s first man in space – said: “We do not agree with the CRTC’s decision on usage-based billing, and we will bring the fight for an open and innovative internet environment to Parliament,” he said.
“The CRTC’s decision limits competition and choice for consumers,” said Liberal Consumer Affairs Critic Dan McTeague. “Places like Ontario will now face 25-gigabyte (GB) download caps, compared to the U.S. which enjoys caps of 250 GB.
This CRTC decision will limit Canadians’ ability to use services like Netflix or watch the news streamed over the internet. This shows yet again that under the Harper Conservative government, CRTC has come to mean ‘Consumers Rarely Taken into Consideration.’
Liberals believe in more internet competition, not less. Canada needs more investment in high-speed internet and we believe more competition will increase that investment.
The Harper government must overturn the CRTC’s decision and stand firmly behind the consumer and fair and open competition.