Regarding all the furor about usage based billing, I don’t think that basic concept is really so objectionable. Someone who uses 100 times more bandwidth than someone else should probably pay more for it.
What I object to is the rate at which the big telecommunication companies are being allowed to charge for bandwidth: $1.90 a gigabyte (GB), above a low limit. Movies, especially, are rather large. One ordinary definition movie from iTunes is about 1.5 GB – 2.0 GB. High definition movies are even more. The cost of actual providing the bandwidth is much lower, and letting the big firms charge such a high amount risks choking off promising new uses for the internet, such as increased videoconferencing. My relatively modest internet use in December (67 GB, well below my previous 200 GB cap) would have resulted in an added charge of nearly $80 to my monthly bill.
It would be fine to have an internet pricing regime that included some variability, it’s just important that it be set up in a way that allows upstart firms to challenge monopoly providers, lowering costs for consumers and improving service. Letting the big companies squeeze their competitors to death with hefty overuse fees doesn’t serve the best interests of Canadians.
[Update: 11:24pm] Michael Geist has a good piece about all of this: Fixing Canada’s Uncompetitive Internet.