The CRTC has announced that it will hold public hearings starting July 11th as part of its now continuing review into wholesale residential high-speed Internet access services.
The new proceedings, which will occur when many Canadians and Canadian politicians are on holidays, were announced just six weeks after Industry Trade Minister Tony Clement announced that Federal Cabinet would not accept the CRTC's October 2010 decision regarding Usage Based Billing ruling.
Before the minister made his announcement, the federal regulator was going to require third-party Internet access (TPIA) providers to cap internet usage for consumers in Ontario at 25GB beyond which a Usage Based premium of as much as $2.00/GB would be applied. The regulator had set a cap of 60GB in Quebec.
The CRTC decision led to a firestorm of protest by Canadian consumers. The Federal cabinet, perhaps fearing an angry electorate in middle of an election campaign, announced that the CRTC would have to reverse its decision or else have it overturned by cabinet.
The new proceedings, which could happen after a possible Spring election, will focus on much of the same issues as previous proceedings such as: usage-based charges, usage-based charges driven by peak traffic periods, and an examination of network capacity and congestion but won't discuss weightier issues such as: the regulatory framework for wholesale high-speed Internet access services, and the billing practices for retail Internet services.
The timing of the CRTC proceedings, the middle of summer after possible elections, and the focus on UBB charges only suggest that the CRTC has every intention of bringing back UBB rather than burying a practice strongly opposed by the Federal Cabinet.
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