A Canadian regulatory ruling that effectively stops small Internet providers from offering unlimited downloads must be revised, Industry Minister Tony Clement said on the social networking site Twitter.
True. CRTC must go back to the drawing board, Clement wrote late on Wednesday when asked whether he would overturn the decision if the regulator does not back down. http://twitter.com/#!/TonyClement_MP
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, ruled last week that BCE Inc, the parent of Bell Canada, could charge wholesalers that lease bandwidth on its network on the same usage basis it charges its own customers, minus a 15 percent discount.
The ruling would force small carriers to pass along the extra cost and prevent them from offering cheap package plans to their customers.
Major providers such as Bell, Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications charge customers extra if they download more than their monthly limits, typically between 20 and 60 gigabytes.
Small providers often offer plans with 200 gigabyte ceilings, or even unlimited use, via bandwidth the big operators are required to lease to them.
Bell, Telus and other big providers say they have spent billions of dollars upgrading their networks and should be able to set prices to ensure a decent return on their investments.
Some 400,000 Canadians buy Internet access from smaller ISPs, and most of them get it via the networks of the incumbent telecom operators. Cable companies such as Rogers and Shaw have more than 50 percent of the market for high-speed Internet provision, according to CRTC data.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ordered a review of the ruling on Tuesday, a week after the CRTC decision and a day after the opposition Liberals said they would raise the issue in Parliament. The left-leaning New Democratic Party also complained.
Telecom analyst Iain Grant from the SeaBoard Group consultancy said political necessity likely pushed the government to react.
Occasionally calm sober reflection actually does give a better result than instant thoughts on Twitter, although it is an election year in a minority government, Grant said.
The CRTC's chairman, Konrad von Finckenstein, and its vice-chairman for telecoms, Len Katz, have been summoned to appear on Thursday before a parliamentary committee considering the CRTC's decision.
The CRTC decision was due to go into effect on March 1. The government can alter the decision unilaterally, reaffirm it or send it back to the CRTC with specific concerns.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Pav Jordan; editing by Peter Galloway)