updated 12:50 pm EDT, Thu August 7, 2008
Bell charging ISPs on use
Some Canadian ISPs may soon be facing extra charges, according to reports. Bell Canada, which delivers ADSL broadband through its Sympatico service, has decided to add usage charges to the bills of smaller ISPs who lease network capacity. These ISPs currently pay only for "aggregation links," representing a fixed bandwidth throughput, such as 1Gbps; the amount of data actually used by customers on that connection has been irrelevant.
In the near future, however, Bell is scheduled to impose limits on the amount of "free" bandwidth ISPs can have. Those selling 512Kbps connections to customers, for instance, will have a mere 2GB before usage fees kick in, and this raises to just 60GB for 5Mbps packages.
Bell says that the fees are a necessary response to increasing bandwidth consumption, but Tom Copeland, the head of an ISP association called CAIP, complains that the cost is unfair. "The wholesale vendor of such a facility shouldn't interfere with the delivery of the product or service," he says, "nor should they apply what amounts to a surcharge when an end user decides to make use of the product or service."
Bell has come under increasing flak for its bandwidth policies, which have allegedly involved throttling peer-to-peer traffic for sub-providers. By restricting this bandwidth, critics have said, Bell makes it difficult for third parties to compete with Sympatico.