2012-03-05The country's independent service providers want the latest Internet billing and pricing schemes thrown out. So, too, documents reveal, the country's largest providers.
The Canadian Network Operators Consortium, representing smallers ISPs like Primus, Teksavvy and Telnet, has asked the telecom and broadcast regulator to start again in its look at setting wholesale rates for Internet usage.
It has told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that its members will be significantly weakened by the current pricing model, which was approved by regulators last fall.
But in other so-called 'review and vary' applications filed recently, Bell Canada, Rogers and Shaw are asking the CRTC to increase wholesale rates, feeling that the rate set last November for residential servces is too low.
In its Telecom Regulatory Policies CRTC 2011-703 and 2011-704, the CRTC implemented new rate structures and rates for wholesale access services, designed to implement a ‘capacity-based rate structure’, not a ‘usage based billing’ protocol.
Beyond negative cost and pricing impacts it sees in the new regime, the independent ISP consortium also says that it will be very difficult for its members that provide video services over the Internet to compete with the telephone and cable companies that offer similar services – as almost all do.
“The CRTC decision is only going to entrench the duopoly that exists between the large telephone and cable companies in the provision of Internet access services.” said Bill Sandiford, President of CNOC, at the time. “CNOC is very concerned about the fragile state of wireline broadband competition in Canada in light of this decision”, he added.
CNOC members buy wholesale from major carriers like Bell, Telus, Rogers and Videotron, but the group says the rate schedule set by the commission will lead to “unreasonable and competitively unsustainable” retail rates for customers.
It wants access to confidential wholesale financial figures provided by the larger ISPs to the CRTC.
“The commission rate setting process needs to be redone in a more transparent manner,” CNOC said in a recent news release.
“The net result of this procedural unfairness is that competition in the provision of retail Internet and other high-speed services is imperiled on a going forward,” Sandiford said in the release, adding that the current process “does not work now.
"In the Internet era, wholesale rates are very sensitive to the inputs used to derive those rates and market conditions can change rapidly. In this environment a new balance must be struck between protecting the competitively sensitive information of incumbents and enabling interveners to participate in a full and meaningful manner in the regulatory process.”
Even as independent ISPs come forward to show concerns with the new pricing model, critics and consumer advocacy groups say it also makes it more difficult for the average consumer to compare ISP costs and services.
“Big telecom companies appear to have convinced the CRTC to include punitive and greatly inflated costs in the new Internet pricing model,” said OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson, in announcing an online petition tool that asks for “a transparent review of Big Telecom’s rates.”
For more Mediacaster Magazine coverage realted to this topic, please see:
CRTC Proceeds with New Internet Billing Plans
CRTC Says New Wholesale Billing Supports Choice of Internet Services
CRTC Ruling Mixed for Canadian Consumers – Distributel
CRTC Internet Decision Positive for Competition – Allstream
Bell Proposes New Internet Pricing Plan
CRTC Reviews Usage Based Billing Decision