Clement Confirms Plans to Overturn UBB Decision

Industry Minister Tony Clement has confirmed that the government intends to overturn the CRTC’s usage based billing decision.  In a twitter exchange with CBC reporter Rosemary Barton, Clement was asked “is it true you will overturn internet decision if CRTC does not back down?”.  Clement responded “True. CRTC must go back to drawing board.”  Given that there is no reason or obvious legal mechanism for the CRTC to withdraw its UBB opinions, this appears to confirm that the government will order the CRTC to start over on the issue.


  1. Pleasant surprise
    I was about to kick into gear with a full siege of all of my social media regarding how Canadians need to shout out on this subject. I am hoping that this is followed through upon. I think it would be foolhardy of the government not to, seeing as the signatures on the Stop the Meter petition already number 357,000, or nominally over 1% of the population of Canada.

  2. No surprise
    I don’t really see how the Government had much choice. Other than the Big Boys themselves, UBB was pretty much loathed in every other quarter. Not involving Cabinet into this would have had political ramifications.

  3. Good news, but the fight’s not over.
    Clement wants the CRTC to ‘Go back to the drawing board’, which can mean revising UBB but not necessarily eliminating it. Don’t give up the fight just yet. The good news is that the Government is now obviously aware of how important an issue this is and that if they don’t get it right it will have significant consequences in the next election.

  4. CRTC Needs to be Cleaned
    I agree with a posting on Twitter that this is still not good enough. The CRTC needs to be cleaned of corruption also. A simple over ruling is only going to lead to another exposed loop hole on the part of the CRTC. We need the CRTC cleaned or dissolved and a good starting point is to sign the petition at:

  5. Yadwinder Sidhu says:

    94% of us are STILL stuck with UBB
    Only 6% of Canadians use an Independent ISP. 94% do not. The vast majority do not even have access to an indie ISP.

    This is not enough. There is no economic necessity for metered billing. It costs less than a penny to deliver 1 GB of traffic between a customer’s home and their ISP, yet they expect a 2000% markup. Meanwhile, we already paid for that data to be sent, when we paid our $50.00 monthly internet rate, so we end up paying twice.

    Content providers pay for the vast majority of the transit, ISPs costs for data are incredibly low. Less than a penny per GB and falling, according to the CEO of Netflix, and the CEO of Teksavvy.

    The government needs to step in and ban metered billing across Canada. Simply removing this obscene system of billing, that is only used in Canada, is unfair to us all.

    Does this seem fair? Why are we at the bottom of this list of countries that offer unlimited? I’d like our politicians to answer why the CRTC believed Bell’s story that UBB is “necessary” when obviously it is not necessary in the rest of the world:

    Michael Geist – Thank you, as always, for being a ray of sanity in all of this.

  6. It’s all fine if it works in their favor …
    You will hear ISP say that they have to charge more for the ‘internet hogs’, here are some problems and contradictions with that:

    1) They want to charge more over the monthly fee you pay for high usage but you never hear them say they will refund low internet users. Why not?

    2) Is not the low usage of 80% of the ‘non-hogs’ more than compensation for the other 20%?

    3) If they really wanted a fair pricing usage system the low users should pay less rather then the current flat ‘entry fee’. A realistic cost appropriate per MB fee for everyone would be a fairer system.

    4) The caps are not to limit hogs, rather the DRASTICALLY lowered cap to 25GB is to stave off people using 3rd party media delivery products such as netflix which compete with their own vertical products such as cable pay-per-view.

    There is limited competitaion from a major duopoly and the UBB decision is to take any further comparative products out of the market.

    It is no wonder that people are outraged, even the usually uninformed masses seem to be able to see this for what it is. Nice for change, go Canada!

  7. Telecommunications Act, s 62
    Michael, I disagree that there’s “no obvious legal mechanism” for the CRTC to withdraw the decision. The Review & Vary power under s 62 can explicitly be used on the Commission’s own motion. There’s an obvious can of worms in *using* that power, since it undermines any ability to rely on regulatory decisions, but it exists.

  8. As has been stated, this needs to be quashed, not sent back to the CRTC for a review or vary. The fight is still on, everyone who can should attend the rally in toronto tomorrow at young & dundas (starts at 9am). Do not give up until this issue is buried 6 feet under.

  9. At Mr. Keith Rose

    Both Teksavvy and JF Mezei filed for a Stay of Execution and an R&V. CRTC ignored it and told them “no”.

  10. All of this is Bell Canada’s doing!!!! I know of someone who works for a wholesale re-seller company of Bell Canada, which Bell provides Local phone & Internet services to and they in turn sell to consumers under their own company name. These are the companies Bell is targeting such as Teletek, Primus, Arcanac just to name a few. Why the CRTC ruled in their favor is questionable, there should be an investigation in that alone. This is all in the name of money. Bell Canada is a greedy company, not only are they making lots of money on their own, but also the re-seller companies are paying them big bucks to “Rent” their lines & services. Now they are trying to extinguish these re-seller companies, by imposing a Internet cap for consumers. Most people don’t realize that, in the CRTC ruling it also states; these re-seller companies have to pay Bell Canada for overage Internet already used by their customers all the way to 2009!!!

    While all of this is going on, Bell Canada is underhanding their own re-seller companies by lowering their prices, knowing the re-seller companies have no choice but to raise their prices to compensate these loses, therefore stealing customers away from these companies!!

    Bell Canada is the monster that created all of this, & the CRTC is the Devil’s Advocate!!

    So before you cancel your services with these smaller companies & sign up with Bell Canada, PLEASE think of the above statement, and know that you are playing into the Devil’s hand!!!!

  11. Steve Hanov says:

    I agree that the CRTC needs to revisit this. I do support usage based billing as an alternative to filtering. However, the rates they set are punitive. They need to set the price fairly, not to punish people for using Netflix.

  12. A True UBB should started with 0 GB, and charge per GB with a fair price
    Why not do a UBB like they do for the phone.

    Let’s say, 15 cents per GB (I believe that is more than fair for the ISPs as the only cost about 1 penny on it). As consumer, we can be even more generous to pay another $5 bucks either called tips or Admin fee.

  13. BootToTheHead says:

    It takes hundreds of thousands of screaming Canadians to get the current limp noodle and reactionary government to reverse an obvious money grab but the fact that it HAPPENED in the first place is yet another concern. A good government is where something like this is prevented before the public, not so stupid as to swallow that brand of crud, has to revolt for common sense to kick in.

    Reversing this is not enough. The CRTC doing this is a real sign that something about them has to change and in a major way–and NOT by having the current heads chairing it since they appears to work… poorly.

  14. Customer protection
    While Mr. Clement is at it, maybe he could evaluate the introduction of some customer protection rules.

    Like in defining the minimal service performance that has to be achieved in order to declare the service as “working” (as opposed to “defective” and the customer entitled to a refund).

    I am mentioning this as I am experiencing firsthand what other people are complaining too on DSL forums. I.e. Bell DSL latencies in excess of 1000ms and degradation of speed in the evenings (most notable between 8PM -11PM). And this for *light* usage (we’re talking people trying to view web pages)

    This makes the service perfectly unusable for playing network games for example.

    So can we please have a look at this practice. I want to be able to ask for a refund when the provided service is unusable.

    Details here:

    in the Bell and TekSavvy forums (yes Bell is doing it to TekSavvy’s customers too).

    Please note that this is not about caps. It’s about degraded service (in speed and latency) to the point it becomes useless.


  15. Regarding Tony Clement
    A gentleman named Ron Waller posted the following on FB, with regards to Minister Clement:

    “People should realize that Clement killed an earlier CRTC initiative that would allow third-party providers like TekSavvy to offer highspeed DSL at 12Mbps and higher. Clement is not on the side of customers.

    Even if he actually does return …things back they way they were (which is a big if) regular broadband will still have ridiculous data caps and over-use charges, and companies like TekSavvy will still be limited to 5 Mbps (while Bell and Rogers offer 35Mpbs.)

    We need to take the fight to the next level and make this an election issue. Fact is people in Europe and Asia pay half of what North Americans pay for highspeed internet, HDTV and phone because of “open access” regulations.

    Open Access rules take hits from Harper government:

    Canada must open internet networks: Senate

    NY Times: Open Access: Ending the Internet’s Trench Warfare

  16. To be more specific….
    …I want to see Bell having the obligation to mention the minimal due service on their Internet plans fliers and web pages.

    Like in:

    Bell Performance:

    * Download speed: up to 6 Mbps1
    * Upload speed: up to 1 Mbps
    * Internet usage: 25 GB of bandwidth per month

    and a mandatory note with

    Guaranteed minimal service characteristics:
    -download speed min. 1 Mbps
    -upload speed min. 256kbps
    -latency max. 150ms
    -service availability 99%


  17. Finally some sanity
    This is one rather small step. The real solution is not to ban UBB, but to remove the conflict of interest: break Bell up into a wholesale infrastructure company and a retail service provider, *or* build/reclaim public telecom infrastructure and lease to all ISP’s (including Bell) equally.

  18. confusion & fraud
    Flat rate or Usage rate. Not both. With their current plan they steal the money from the 80% of the people that do not use bandwith that much and then grab extra money from 20% of the people who go over the limit. This is just pure fraud. Furthermore they offer plans to cross the limits by hundreds gigabytes at the time. Isn’t the UBB a evil necessary for filtering net congestion?

  19. I’m A “HOG”???
    I decided that I would try to keep track of my “capped” usage and how far 25gig would take me per month. Presently I pay for 200gig.

    I installed a usage meter and guess what?

    Just following *the news on this issue* which includes, videos from major news providers, following debates on forums, opening my email including some HTML ads from places where I buy computer parts online [good luck to them when everyone cancels their email sale ads to save UBB charges], emailing a few friends, flash ads on news sites etc.

    According to the meter at this rate I will be OVER 25gig by the end of the month and that was *regulating* my use down to just the news related to this issue. That’s NO “downloading” of films, books, watching TV other than CSPAN/CBC/News-related—NOTHING ELSE.

    So for anyone who is buying the Bell or Roger’s line that “25gig is plenty, you bandwidth HOG”–that’s a load of rotting carp.

    Had I wanted to upload some video or blogged/written daily with photos about this issue…I’d be DOUBLE that 25gig and subject to paying usurious fees to Bell, who I despise. My ISP wouldn’t have received a single extra dime for providing extra service. In essence, after 25gig they become nothing more than Bell’s banking system.

    Oh and my one *luxury*? I skyped a friend in the USA to save long distance charges. We were going to start a blogging project together to help Indie writers but I had to tell her, with the UBB I won’t be able to afford to do it. Maybe I should have phoned her and paid LD charges to give her the information?

    This is about access of ALL people in Canada, including the disabled and financially disadvantaged to be able to take part in the political, cultural, social and commercial life of this country fairly and equitably.

    Internet is no longer a luxury.

    It is part of the cultural imperative and with UBB, only the upper class will be able to pay those rates–cutting everyone else out of the political/cultural/social norms of this country.

  20. i’m amazed the crtc even got away with pushing this through. it’s like going into peoples houses restricting their pipes so they can only take one shower a month. it’s absurd. i say fire the whole board of the crtc and put new people there because something stinks

  21. So, we’re all happy that the government can order an independent agency to reverse a decision for highly political reasons?

    It’s just one big celebration of democracy over here.

  22. Bell Mafia
    The only question I have is how they force CRTC to made this decision and what others players are involved in this dirty game ? ( Rogers ?)

  23. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Thank You Bell For the History Lesson
    Yadwinder Sidhu said:

    “…The government needs to step in and ban metered billing across Canada. Simply removing this obscene system of billing, that is only used in Canada, is unfair to us all.

    Does this seem fair? Why are we at the bottom of this list of countries that offer unlimited? I’d like our politicians to answer why the CRTC believed Bell’s story that UBB is “necessary” when obviously it is not necessary in the rest of the world…”

    In response to Yadwinder, might we need to examine our personal history and what we historically accept as Canadians and learn from it! I did yesterday!

    I received an email three days ago from my small “indie” ISP explaining it wasn’t their fault that they would be proposing a new usage-based billing structure. Their maximum proposed offering of $15 more than I pay them now for unlimited service would be for 25 + 120 = 145 Gigs a month $5 more than Bell without a bundle, not an overly painful proposal.

    Small ISP’s also offer the choice of owning one’s modem (a difficult object to find at Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source and any other store that sells Bell/Rogers products).

    The email caused me to review my Bell Residential Phone Bills for the past year in a spreadsheet and then I dialed 310 BELL (2355). When one responds ”CANCEL”, boy have they got pleasant folks offering some great deals one just can’t read about! To make a long story short I have a revised service which should more than cover our long distance usage, no contract and a $60 credit for the first year equating to a contract price for an anticipated net saving of over $500 a year. Thank you Bell, for waking me up to reviewing my telephone usage over billing.

    How many of the 94 percent are stuck with Bell and other large ISP’s because of bundled contracts that save them 5 dollars per service feature, in the case of the Internet maybe offsetting the modem rental?

    How many could move to a smaller unlimited ISP and simply don’t?

    With VOIP and a pay as you go cell phone there really isn’t any need other than historic comfort levels for a land line.

    I will be watching the next few weeks with interest because when I asked my ISP, “if I sign up today for the 145 Gigs and the ruling is overturned will I be permitted to return to my current unlimited plan?” The response was vague. I am cynical by nature and so I retain my plan as is for now.

    Did you know that Bell customers pay $2.80/month for touch-tone service…$36.80 annually for what has essentially become the standard?

    Time for another petition, this one against touch-tone based dialing? Can they even turn it off if you tell them you have a rotary phone?

    I apologize for the tangents.

  24. @Degen: “So, we’re all happy that the government can order an independent agency to reverse a decision for highly political reasons?”

    1. “the agency” doesn’t seem to be independent at all
    2. “the agency” has a proven track of unbelievably audacious proposals (“let’s broadcast fake news”) that suggest it went rogue a long time ago
    3. I agree that the correct solution would be to disband such rogue “agency” and take the matters directly in the hands of the government
    4. Given that 3. is not on the table right now, overturning “the agency’s” decisions is better than doing nothing


  25. @Rose: “Small ISP’s also offer the choice of owning one’s modem (a difficult object to find at Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source and any other store that sells Bell/Rogers products).”

    To be fair, Rogers offers this choice and their modems can be purchased at their stores or ordered online (and currently you have a choice between 3 different models).

    Bell is a different story.


  26. Hannah Newman says:

    Let’s all move to France. It makes me weep but this is what they get.

    1. Download speeds 20Mb/s,
    2. iPhone with unlimited free calling to French land lines and all incoming text and phone calls free,
    3. 18 over the air digital TV channels, and
    4. NO CAPS

    All this for 37 Euros/month (about $47).

    Go see for yourselves at

  27. @Hannah:

    No you don’t want to compare with France because our incumbents will say that it’s not a valid comparison due to geographical/population density characteristics.

    How about Norway, which in this respect is very similar to a Canadian province. Read here:

    Personally for such results I’m willing to dig all summer long.


  28. C-32
    According to this, it is exactly the DRM stuff like DVDs and Blu-Rays that gets pirated (and no one cares to copy unprotected music anymore):

    So why do we want to protect DRM in C-32? To ensure piracy survival?

    Nap. :-)

  29. What is democracy?
    @Degen For you democracy means being free to ripp off people. For me democracy means that there are watch dogs (agencies, papers, etc.) that stop criminals committing fraud. Here a SIM for a cellular phone expires after a month no matter what if you use all the calling time you paid for or not. In europe (where there are democracies older than Canada itself) a SIM card expires after a year and the provider “BY THE LAW” has to give you back the unused money. Free market is not democracy. Democracy is about people, free market is about merchants (a subset of people).

  30. If you’re not already, listen to the livestream on
    Mr. Von Finckenstein (head of CRTC) sounds like he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Multiple times in today’s testimony he made statements comparing wired internet to the wireless space. Anyone who knows technology is aware of the fact that wireless bandwidth is limited by the actual capacity of free space (which is finite), whereas wired communications have no such limitation. A wired network’s capacity is only limited by the volume of physical media (ie. transmission lines) available.

    I could go on, but to be clear:
    This man should not be running our telecom regulator. What he has said today proves that he is in the pocket of each major telecom company in one way or another. Just watch the video on

    If you still can’t see my point after watching that, think of the analogy he tried to make between Usage Based Billing and how we pay for our utilities (gas, hydro, water). There is no cap on how much nat. gas I can use before I pay a higher rate. I don’t pay a set monthly fee for the gas connection + (x) number of cubic metres. I pay for what I use, period. There is a reason that no other industry has such wonky billing practices as telecom: others are properly regulated.

    I hope this has helped a few people to better understand the issue at hand.

  31. @screamer: “Free market is not democracy.”

    Well, there’s no such thing as “free market”. Each and every market is extensively regulated, under any kind of political regime.

    Using your example, both Canada and Europe are regulated. It’s all about what the rules say (i.e. you can sell that kind of SIM or not). Sometimes the rules favor the business, sometimes the consumer, sometimes they try to strike a balance between the two. But each and every time there’s a rule.


  32. Gosh, it’s a good thing folks here use pseudonyms mostly, because making accusations that the CRTC head is “in the pocket of each major telecom company in one way or another” seems to me to be positively libelous.

    I wonder if von Finckenstein reads this blog?

  33. John Papers says:

    Great Post!
    Thanks for the article..