Steve Anderson of openmedia.ca on Usage Based Billing

I spoke with Steve Anderson of OpenMedia.ca this morning about the CRTC’s recent ruling that open’s the door for Usage Based Billing. OpenMedia.ca has really led the grassroots (digitalroots?) charge that has seen a massive number of people sign an online petition that has, at least in part, prompted political action. Or at least as much as the Liberal opposition and a promise for Ministerial review counts as “action.”

I’m a bit torn on all of this: on the one hand, I think that it is more-or-less reasonable that heavy users should have to pay for what they consume, and think that there are pricing plans out there that can readily accommodate the vast majority of home users. As an example, I get 90 gb/month with Rogers, and even with Netflix and torrents, rarely get much above 50 gb/month. On the other hand, Bell, Rogers, and the other main ISPs have built a massive infrastructure advantage in large part because they had protected utility monopolies for decades. Startups and smaller competitors really can’t build an alternate set of wiring to compete.

Anderson’s real beef seems to not be that there is metered billing, but that overage fees are too high and kick in too low. He concedes that former upper limits were reasonable, as people rarely hit them, and argues that there isn’t a connection between the cost of providing bandwith and what they charge.

Again, that might be the case, given the infrastructure advantage carried by the status quo companies. But I’m reluctant to tell any business how much their services are worth without great cause, and I have a hard time getting exercised about a $4.75 charge for $40 GB of¬†bandwidth, as TekSavvy suggests is likely.