Usage-based billing opens up a much larger debate about public broadband: i-Canada Chair, Bill Hutchison speaks out
February 3, 2011

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.”