Getting less for more.

Like their US counterparts, large Canadian ISPs are now considering tiered internet service:

The free ride may be over for consumers who download movies and music files and play video games, as Internet service providers consider a move toward a “two-tier Internet.”

Companies that carry the data are talking about charging Canadians extra for everything from streaming audio and video to Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls and online gaming. Anything that uses bandwidth is under examination.

This is not about providing better service. This is about charging you more for the service you already get, and pay more for than most countries in the world.

These are companies that have been promising unlimited bandwidth for years. The Bell High Speed Internet Access page lists the key features of the service:

Key Features

Unlimited bandwidth usage    Y

Now that you are actually starting to use what they have been promising for years they suddenly want to charge you more for it:

The added charges being discussed are the result of too much traffic riding on the networks for free, says Lawrence Surtees, director of Canadian telecom and Internet research with Toronto-based technology analysis company, IDC Canada.

“If it’s just a blip, they don’t care. But if it’s big, then all of a sudden I’m an ISP with infrastructure. I’m on the hook for carrying that stuff and equipping the network to handle it and I’m not getting paid for it.”

I’m not sure where the “free” part comes from, because my ISP charges me $40+ per month. Many other countries are providing much faster service for a fraction of the price.

This is merely the act of desperate companies who see their business model crumbling, and they are trying to protect it by increasing prices drastically for what we already get. How can you possibly justify price discrimination and a massive increase in price for the same service we get today?

Would it be reasonable if operators suddenly started charging ten times as much for long distance calls? That’s pretty much what we’re talking about here.

The internet has become as useful as it is because of non-discriminatory pricing. To introduce tiered service now will simply end the ability of North America to compete with the rest of the world.

Professor Michael Geist has more here.

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