Finally, a price tag on internet throttling

10 Jan

One further follow-up today to yesterday’s post about the dystopian future of Canada’s increasingly compartmentalized internet. University of Ottawa internet law professor Michael Geist wrote last week about how the real story behind Teksavvy’s new plans was not the company’s price hikes, which is what many media stories focused on, but its differentiated services.

The CRTC’s new capacity-based billing (CBB) system is a good thing, he said, because it allows smaller internet providers to get creative with the plans they offer. Teksavvy, for example, is now offering service with generous caps during the day and unlimited downloading during the night, which are plans that none of the big ISPs are currently matching. This is a good thing for competition.

Geist is, of course, absolutely right. It’s obvious by comparing Teksavvy’s plans to the big guys’ that they are considerably cheaper and have more generous caps. If the smaller ISP can poach enough customers, the big guys may be spurred to action and offer similar plans, which would be a textbook case of how this whole messy regulatory system is supposed to work.

There is, however, a perverse competitive side effect from the CRTC’s new CBB scheme: there is now an effective dollar value assigned to a throttled internet connection.

Teksavvy offers both cable and DSL services. In its main operating area of Ontario, these connect largely to Rogers’ and Bell’s respective networks. Bell recently announced that it was cutting out its throttling practices – which slow certain uses of the internet, particularly file-sharing – on both retail and wholesale customers. Rogers, meanwhile, continues to reign as the global king of throttling.

Teksavvy is offering virtually the same speeds and usage caps over both cable and DSL, but at the higher end the prices are different depending on the type of connection. A 24-megabit-per-second connection over cable with 300 gigabytes of usage, for example, is $46.95 while 25 mbps on DSL with the same usage is $52.99, a difference of $6. The discrepancy on the highest-end plans – 24 or 25 megabits with unlimited usage – is even greater: $61.95 for cable versus $77.99 on DSL, or $16.

So there you have it: a price tag on throttling. If you want a fast connection with generous usage that isn’t slowed down, you’ll have to get a DSL connection and pay between $6 and $16 to get it. The hope is that Rogers will eventually feel some sort of competitive pressure and knock off its own throttling, but in the meantime, there it is.

Innovative, isn’t it?


Posted by on January 10, 2012 in crtc, internet


10 responses to “Finally, a price tag on internet throttling

  1. David Oliver

    January 10, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Your completely ignoring the fact the the 25mbps dsl service comes with a 7mbps upload speed whereas the cable service gives you a 1mbps upload speed.

    • petenowak2000

      January 10, 2012 at 4:33 am

      Good point! But are higher upload speeds worth such a premium? They’re obviously useful for a number of applications, but especially for file sharing, so an argument could be made that the price difference is indeed a premium on file sharing as opposed to just throttling.

      • Alexander Trauzzi (@Omega_)

        January 10, 2012 at 6:02 am

        I question whether any of this valuation has been substantiated by actual costs incurred. These numbers and the rates offered seem arbitrary at best.

        Worse of all though is that we’re still foolish enough to believe peak/off-peak usage is actually fair to the consumer.

        I don’t know about others, but I need to be asleep during the impractical times ISPs want to back off these strange rules! I can’t queue playing League of Legends, watching Netflix and listening to internet radio as it’s all interactive.

        Another example of how Canada’s internet use is crippled because of regulatory capture and lopsided consideration for businesses rather than people.

      • Teresa Murphy

        January 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        The free unlimited usage on dsl between 2am & 8am really isn’t tailored for game playing or Netflix – more for things you can schedule, like backups & major downloads.. Like game downloads (Steam) and patching for games.. This frees up capacity during peak, saving Teksavvy money.

        Keep in mind that Teksavvy offers 300GB/month for all their high-speed packages, which really is more than enough for game playing, Netflix usage and internet Radio..

  2. karmatose

    January 10, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Just throwing this out there, but I’m on Teksavvy’s cable offering with the unlimited 24/1 package. There is no throttling any time of the day (and it’s rare that I don’t get my advertised speeds, even when torrenting).

  3. Ben

    January 10, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I’m sorry but how does this amount to a price tag on throttling? The term “throttling” refers to slowing down of certain types of data packets – most widely bittorrent traffic, but also famously WoW (on Rogers) as you probably know, and probably other services that I don’t know about.

    You describe the difference in price between a capped and an unlimited broadband plan – but nowhere is it mentioned whether any of these plans include ITMPs – aside from the brief mention of the peak usage scheme at the top. I think this article needs a little clarification, as it is unclear what you mean by a “price tag” on throttled internet.

    In my opinion, the real focus of the “CBB” decision should be the wild difference in wholesale prices being offered from incumbents: from ~$250/100Mbps (MTSAllstream) to ~$2200/100Mbps (Bells) plus the questionable application of the per-customer access fee (~$15). Am I to believe that bandwidth is 10 times more expensive in Ontario than Manitoba?

    • Myles

      January 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Oi vey.

      Rogers throttles. Bell does not.

      Rogers is cheaper, Bell is more expensive.

      Think about it.

      • Ben

        January 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

        the correlation is not that simple. if you examine the wholesale prices suggested by the various incumbent ISPs (available in the CRTC’s Final Decision on UBB)
        , you’ll notice that the rates vary wildly with no apparent relation between throttling practices and price.

        Also note that Rogers and Bell’s retail internet services cost approximately the same for equivalent services.

      • Ben

        January 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

        Bell drops throttling , raises prices

        Rogers keeps throttling, raises prices.

        Go figure

  4. BT

    January 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    TPIA cable connections are currently not subject to Rogers throttling practices. So no – this doesn’t put a price tag on throttling.

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