Usage-based billing opens up a much larger debate about public broadband

The very serious debate about usage based billing on the Internet cannot be resolved by a mere “yes or no”. It is part of a larger issue around investment and who should be investing. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary by some in Canada, anyone who travels internationally, or reads credible international evaluations knows that Canada is well behind other countries when it comes to our global position with respect to the performance and related cost of public broadband in Canada.

It used to be that our incumbent public communications companies could make a financial return from their services, sufficient to support an investment that kept Canada near the head of the pack internationally. But, to use just one example, the ultra broadband services in other countries that facilitate interactive health care services into the home cannot be charged sufficiently by the communication companies to support the cost of providing a gigabit per second into homes at $60 per month, which is where other countries are heading. Today, the public can have 100 megabits per second in Stockholm, Tokyo, and many other cities, for around $50 per month. In Canada, the standard is closer to 5 mb/sec, with exceptions to 10mb/sec in some places.

The ever increasing opportunities for intelligent ultra broadband infrastructures have a public interest related to our economic and social development that our regulatory, investment and implementation strategies have to consider. We can’t merely start charging more to narrow our cattle paths when others are building super highways and charging less. Equally, we can’t lay all of the problem on the incumbent carriers as it is a broader issue. National economic and social issues are being impacted by our public broadband performance and this is a great opportunity for Prime Minister Harper and his Ministers to address the broader strategy.

Read more about this important issue here on the CATA Alliance Web site, in their statement entitled “CATA, i-CANADA Ask Prime Minister to Use Review to Create New Broadband Policy Model to Deal With Usage-Based Billing, Service Provision.”

2 Responses to “Usage-based billing opens up a much larger debate about public broadband”

  1. Barry Gander says:

    Excellent article Bill! You should put this on the LinkedIn site…

  2. MIchael Geist suggst we ask questions of our candidates. I sent the following to Iggy’s live on-line broadcast. Let’s see if he responds in any way.

    The Intelligent Communities Movement is resonating with companies and communities across Canada.

    Over 100 Canadian organizations and companies so far have formally voiced their support in recognizing digital infrastructure as Canada’s key to future economic development.

    Just as the coast-to-coast National Railroad was a nation-builder for the industrial age (steam engines riding on rails of steel), a national coast-to-coast-to coast gigabyte speed Internet will be a nation builder for the information age (connection machines running on rails of light). See:

    Bills on privacy, copyright, and Internet surveillance died on the order paper and will have to start from scratch when a new government is elected in May. Moreover, the much-anticipated digital economy strategy, set for release this spring, has likely been delayed until the fall at the very earliest.

    Canada ranks almost at the bottom of the list of countries with superior internet service. We almost have the slowest, most expensive internet service in the world… trailed only by Poland and Mexico. Recent moves by internet providers seem to be focussed only on corporate profits by limiting and throttling Canadian’s access to high speed internet service.

    What is your parties position on building an intelligent Canada? How does your current policy address the digital economy strategy? What is your plan to move Canada back up to the number one position with respect to our internet service?

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