Bell Appeals CRTC Billing Decision

by Jordan Richardson on May 27, 2010

Bell Canada is gearing up to appeal a CRTC decision that would make the company bill its retail customers based on data usage. The regulator is requiring the Bell to charge all customers based on those rates, which means that Bell has to move its retail customers off of unlimited downloading plans and on to usage-based billing.

Bell Canada has to move its retail customers to usage-based billing first and then can move its wholesale customers over, which means smaller companies renting out portions of Bell’s service will then have to pass usage-based billing on to their customers as well to cover costs.

Bell sent a letter to the CRTC on May 25. In the letter, the company outlines their objections to the imposition of usage-based billing and explains their belief that this form of billing shows “favouritism” to internet providers and cable companies.

The billing scheme “has the effect of skewing the market for these services by introducing uncertainty and delay into the approval process for the (Bell) services, while continuing to, in effect, rubber stamp rate and service proposals presented by the cable companies,” the letter said.

Bell actually implemented usage-based billing on its customers several years ago, so there really aren’t that many customers for the company to shift over from the unlimited plans. The company has claimed that it went in the direction of usage-based billing to “cut down on costs.”

Bell is going to apply review-and-vary on the CRTC’s decision, which is essentially a formal request for the regulatory body to review and hopefully change its ruling on the issue.

It is interesting for Bell to apply the review-and-vary on this ruling, especially when it actually appears to be in favour of the decision the company made long ago. The real victims here will be the wholesale customers, as they’ll have to alter their entire pricing scheme in order to implement the usage-based billing plans. They’ll also have to do away with their unlimited plans, which up to this point have proven advantageous.

Bell applied for usage-based billing not too long ago with respect to its wholesale customers, too, so this whole case has the markings of Bell wanting to have things both ways.

Bell is also claiming partiality with respect to the speed at which cable internet companies have their rate requests processed, but there’s no word as to the content of this claim or if Bell will bring it up formally to the CRTC as part of the other complaints over usage-based billing.

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