Usage-Based Billing & WHolesale Autonomy (TNC CRTC 2011-77)

CIPPIC represented in a CRTC proceeding regarding the role of ‘usage based billing’ in Internet service provision. With the help of network traffic and economic expert Andrew Odlyzko and other groups such as the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Vaxination Informatique, CIPPIC successfully convinced the CRTC to recognize the public policy harms of its proposed usage-based billing system, and adopt a new wholesale tariff model that is designed to maximize wholesale ISP autonomy and customer choice.

CIPPIC argued that competition on usage-based Internet pricing was desperately needed in Canada in order to protect customers, foster downstream online innovation, and preserve net neutrality. Specifically, CIPPIC argued that: a.) usage-based billing is inherently unfair to customers in that it is non-transparent and imposes mental per-transaction costs on users that act as a heavy and disproportionate deterrent to Internet usage [Reply Comments, paras. 44-50]; b.) there is little to no factual correlation between the rising per MB monthely rates imposed on Canadian Internet users and wholesale ISPs and the actual per MB cost of delivery for incumbent ISPs (the latter is in fact dropping not rising) [Final Comments]; c.) the CRTC’s presumed rationale behind encouraging usage-based Internet billing (to ‘discipline’ above-average Internet users or 'bandwidth hogs') is inherently flawed and conflicts with the Commission’s statutory policy objectives [Initial Comments, paras. 31-38; Reply Commentsparas. 36-40]; and d.) unchecked usage based pricing raises net neutrality concerns in that they impose costs on certain classes of downstream services such as cloud computing services, e-commerce services, video-rich platforms, etc. An out of control usage-based costing model poses a direct threat to online innovation [Reply Comments, paras. 40-43; paras. 72-76].

CRTC Decisions:

  • Telecom Notice of Consultation 2011-77, CRTC Ref. No.: 8661-C12-201102350, February 8, 2011
  • Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-703, November 15, 2011
  • Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2011-704, November 15, 2011

CIPPIC Submissions:



Additional Reading: