Shaw Communications Inc., the Calgary-based cable TV and Internet giant, is appealing the federal telecom regulator’s decision on so-called usage-based billing.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued its decision on the matter in November, after a period of prolonged public backlash over the possibility that regulatory changes might result in higher Internet bills for consumers.
Big telecom companies, such as BCE Inc., had originally requested the ability to be able to charge smaller firms, such as TekSavvy Solutions Inc., by how much data their customers downloaded – a change many feared would obliterate popular “unlimited” download plans offered by smaller competitive players.
After regulatory back-and-forth, the CRTC issued new rules that would allow big providers to charge smaller providers based on the capacity of data downloaded, but still allowed smaller competitors to structure innovative rate plans. However, Shaw objected to the CRTC’s rate structure as it applied to the fee the Calgary cable company was allowed to charge others to access its network. Shaw said the CRTC came to the decision without a careful regard for the information Shaw submitted (all companies submit cost estimates in confidentiality and this information is seen only by the regulator), and that the regulator was violating the spirit of previous decisions vowing not to excessively regulate the Internet market.
“The net impact of the Commission’s adjustments to Shaw’s Cost Study is to unfairly favour third party Internet service providers,” Shaw wrote in a letter addressed to the CRTC and dated Friday, Feb. 3. “The Commission’s excessive intervention in the broadband market through this Decision is exacerbated by the fact that there is already intense competition in the retail Internet services market, particularly in Western Canada.”