Internet services likely to cost you more

Monday, January 30th, 2006


OTTAWA — The free ride may be over for consumers who download movies and music files and play video games, as Internet service providers consider a move toward a “two-tier Internet.”

Companies that carry the data are talking about charging Canadians extra for everything from streaming audio and video to Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls and online gaming. Anything that uses bandwidth is under examination.

“This is all about finding new ways to charge the consumer,” says Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. “Ultimately, they’re going to receive less service and have to pay more for it, and the response that they will receive is if you want some of these additional services, you’re going to have to pay.”

Telus spokesman Shawn Hall says three factors come into play: the size of the Internet pipe and access speed, amount of data being downloaded in a month and priority access during high-demand periods.

“The industry has to move toward different charges for Internet customers with diverse needs,” he says.

Currently, ISPs and telcos are creating a new network, says Hall. Telus is laying down new fibre at a cost of several million dollars in an attempt to smooth out the transmission of applications such as VoIP and video streaming.

Telus is considering adding a quality-of-service charge or tiers of service tailored to different customer needs, Hall says. The company is also thinking about charging large firms such as Google or EBay for access to its network, something that Bell South and AT&T are also proposing in the U.S.

© The Vancouver Province 2006

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