The chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Konrad von Finckenstein, yesterday backtracked on a decision to introduce a new usage-based internet billing framework, which had been called into question by ISPs, lobbyists and the minister of Industry Canada. Von Finckenstein issued a statement reading: ‘Our decisions were set to take effect on 1 March 2011. We have since received from Bell Canada a request that we delay the implementation date by 60 days. A party from our last proceeding, Vaxination Informatique, has also filed a request for a delay. In light of these requests and the evident concerns expressed by Canadians, the Commission has decided to delay the implementation of usage-based billing for wholesale customers by at least 60 days.’ The statement went on to say that the CRTC will review its own decision to verify that it protects consumers, whilst ensuring ‘those who use the internet heavily pay for their excess use’, and small ISPs retain maximum flexibility. It added the view that ‘usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing internet services … Internet services are no different than other public utilities, and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidise a small minority of heavy users …. We want to be absolutely certain that the modalities we have established are the most flexible under the circumstances and do not hinder innovation or harm small ISPs.’ A document outlining the terms of the review will be posted on the CRTC’s website next Monday.
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