February 1 is the day that the new bandwidth restrictions go into effect for many Canadian internet customers. So what exactly is going on here? The big internet providers in Canada, such as Bell Canada, have had usage caps built into their billing for years(referred to as usage-based billing). The quandary is the reseller ISP’s that piggyback on the lines of the larger providers have, up to this point, often offered unlimited plans. All of that changed with the ruling from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). In that ruling wholesalers must introduce usage-based billing. Additionally wholesalers now must impose heavy caps on data use.
So what does all of this mean to consumers? Is this the end to all the things they have enjoyed up to now, like streaming videos and music, and playing games? One of their providers, Primus Canada, is imposing a 25gb monthly limit on their customers. Those that exceed that limit will be charged $2 per gb over the limit. Let’s see what someone can do with such a limit each month.
How many hours of IM (1 hour chat): 2035714.5
Emails (2000 characters, 14 kilobytes): 1035714
How many web pages (350k Web Page): 42428
Songs (3 minutes or 4mb per mp3): 3375
How many Hours World of Warcraft (1hr at 21mb): 1190
Video Clips (5 min clip=30mb): 649
Streaming video (1 hr at 15k per sec): 341
How many movies (full length=1500mb): 13
On the surface, this doesn’t look too bad. However, if you look at the chart, the more intensive use items really start to eat into that bandwidth. This is only with one computer using this too. Imagine households with multiple computers (like my own). This really appears to be an outdated mode of billing clients in the modern age.
Perhaps a better model to use would be something like the electric or water company uses. Why not bill customers at a reasonable rate based on their personal usage?
- Internet download limit slashed for many (cbc.ca)
- Federal government to look into usage-based Internet pricing (theprovince.com)
- Gorge on bandwidth? Pay the price, says Bell (business.financialpost.com)
- New Canadian internet metering will cost average customer a lot more for much less, say ISPs (geek.com)