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Let off steam about web bills

The CRTC is calling for public feedback on its controversial policy on usage-based Internet billing, a plan that would allow providers to charge heavy Internet users more.

The CRTC is calling for public feedback on its controversial policy on usage-based Internet billing, a plan that would allow providers to charge heavy Internet users more.

The federal telecom regulator said last week it would delay a reform that was originally to take effect March 1, while the policy is reviewed.

The CRTC added yesterday it wants the public to suggest how to balance the needs of consumers and Internet service providers, both small and large.

The regulator’s previous decision was criticized as being unfair to small Internet service providers and their customers.

The CRTC had given major Internet providers permission to change their billing practices for wholesale service to the smaller providers.

Critics of usage-based billing say it would put small ISPs at a disadvantage while defenders of the plan say heavy Internet users shouldn’t get unlimited service.

CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said yesterday ordinary consumers shouldn’t have to indirectly subsidize the bandwidth used by the heaviest residential consumers.

He also said it’s in the best interest of consumers that small Internet service providers continue to offer a competitive alternative to major providers.

“With these principles in mind, we will be reviewing our decisions with fresh eyes and look forward to hearing the views of Canadians,” Von Finckenstein said.

Industry Minister Tony Clement has said if the CRTC comes back with the same plan, it will be overruled.

The CRTC said yesterday interested parties can make comments to the commission until April 29.

Among the questions it wants to address is: “Whether the CRTC should set a minimum threshold level for the sale of bandwidth by large distributors to the small ISPs and, if so, what should it be.”

 
 
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