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The Hamilton Spectator
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Friday February 4, 2011
CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein agreed Thursday to give a controversial ruling on user-based Internet billing a fresh look, but told a committee of MPs he stands by the underlying principle that ordinary Canadians shouldn't subsidize heavy Internet users who download myriad movies and video games.

The Conservative government, however, said it would ignore any improvements the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission has to offer unless the regulator abandons attempts to put caps on Internet use.

Mr. von Finckenstein, who appeared before the House of Commons industry committee, said Internet services are no different than other public utilities, such as natural gas and electricity, and should be priced and delivered accordingly.

"Usage in not unlimited," he said, as he agreed to delay implementation of the regulator's user-based billing ruling by 60 days. "The vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users."

Within the 60 days, the regulator would conduct a review to ensure consumers and smaller Internet service providers are protected under the rules.

The CRTC ruled last week, after months of consideration, that major Internet-service providers could charge wholesalers that lease bandwidth a rate comparable to what it charges its own customers, minus a 15% discount.

Smaller Internet service providers (ISPs), which use this leased bandwidth, had offered customers packages with unlimited downloads. But they argue the CRTC ruling on user-based billing, or UBB, will force them to impose preset limits or "caps" on the amount of data theirs customers can consume each month before extra fees kick in. Continued...

CRTC vows to reassess ruling on user-based billing
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