UPDATE: Looks like Canada officials aren't gonna let this one slide - good on them! The CRTC "should be under no illusion—the Prime Minister and Minister of Industry will reverse this decision unless the CRTC does it itself," a member of Canada's conservative government told the Toronto Star on Wednesday.
"Frankly, a decision like this is clearly not in the best interest of consumers," the unnamed senior official added. "This is a bread-and-butter issue."In a move that may well be a sign of things to come in the US and elswhere, Canada's CRTC (the equivalent to the FCC) made a very controversial decision recently, which allows incumbent telcos like Bell Canada to enact usage based billing, not only to their own customers, but to those of the local ISPs that resell bandwidth. Since Bell Canada is the major telephone company in Canada, that basically means that this applies to all local DSL providers. As a striking example, TekSavvy, which is a local ISP in Ontario, is forced to bring down the bandwidth cap from 200GB per month to 25GB. It's likely that most Canadians will feel the much increased charges at some point if they wish to use the Internet for large downloads, such as streaming Netflix, downloading games on Steam, buying music on iTunes, or anything that requires a lot of bandwidth.
Since then, there's been a lot of grassroots movements to protest these new rules. The group OpenMedia has a petition which has been signed over 350,000 times so far, as well as a good account of what goes on politically and in the media about the situation. Some point out at the conflict of interest that incumbent telcos are in, like in Bell Canada's case, the fact that they own the CTV television network, and thus compete directly with Netflix. The Prime Minister has heard the complaints and will review the CRTC's decision. This could be a major turning point for the Internet, first across Canada, and potentially elsewhere too.
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