CRTC UBB Decision Should Encourage Competition and Innovation

The CRTC Usage Based Billing decision is expected by December 2011. Bell, Rogers and Shaw are lobbying to profit from video whether you buy their own video content or go “over-the-top” to watch somebody else’s. Consumers are concerned that this means they will have no choice but to pay extra to watch Netflix and YouTube.

We support a decision that prevents Telus, Bell, Rogers and Shaw from using UBB to hinder competitors or prevent Independent ISPs from innovating. The opportunity to hinder competitors was highlighted when Shaw’s CEO announced July 15  that Shaw would charge for Netflix traffic but not for traffic related to Shaw’s new competing service. There were immediate objections to Shaw using UBB to give themselves an unfair advantage, and in a rapid about-face Shaw quickly replied that their CEO misspoke and that watching all content, including Shaw’s own, through a computer would count towards UBB.

Three days later Bell Canada’a Senior Vice-President Regulatory & Government Affairs threatened to take the CRTC to court if Independent ISPs were allowed to offer speeds different than what Bell was already offering. Similarily, Telus does not allow Independent ISPs to sell business customers the same speeds as residential customers. If limiting choice of speeds is allowed, what other limitations might be imposed? We should all be concerned that stifling innovation by Independent ISPs will reduce the chance that innovative ideas are realized by anybody.

The Internet was designed to support as many applications as possible. It offers enormous opportunities for all innovators and users. Skyway West like most other Independent ISPs has a culture of innovation. We are continually upgrading hardware, operating systems, technologies and software while striving to become more efficient and enhance our services. We also have a history of helping other innovators achieve success. For example, we help VoIP providers and their customers by giving their VoIP traffic priority over web browsing and email.

The CRTC Usage Based Billing decision is more far-reaching than residential Internet customers simply paying more. It will also determine if Canada embraces competition and innovation over acquiescing to the dominant service providers, whose network infrastructure, lets not forget, was subsidized by all of us.