Bell Charges $10 More for HSPA+ Access

by Jordan Richardson on October 21, 2010

According to leaked internal memos, Bell Canada is revving up a plan to charge users $10 more for HSPA+ access.

From what I can tell thus far, the focus of the $10 surcharge appears to be on the new Turbo Stick and Turbo Hub devices. The memo, however, is hard to interpret as a complete picture. It does appear that Bell is taking a page out of U.S. carrier Sprint’s book with this charge.

In the case of Sprint, the company charges the extra $10 to allow customers the grand pleasure of accessing the Mobile WiMax network. It’s a sort of “premium access” carrot, seemingly designed to draw even more money out of the consumer. Some critics call it the “Because We Can” fee.

For Bell Canada, they don’t offer a complete HSPA+ network and this premium fee looks to be their way of allowing some customers behind the proverbial velvet rope. Still, it’s hard to justify the fee as anything other than a cash grab.

Sprint, for its part, offered little by way of an explanation for its fee. There appears to be no good reason, other than for corporations to expand on their already obscene profits, for consumers to spring $10 on top of their existing data plans. It’s like allowing you to pay a little extra to have access to the good stuff when you are theoretically already paying for the good stuff. Maybe this is the better stuff?

Bell Canada also promises “new higher speed devices to take maximum advantage of these enhancements.”

Some say that Bell Canada has an opportunity with this fee if it offers the carrot of unlimited data with the $10 charge, but I see that as little more than a pipe dream. This fee is a squeeze on the consumer, plain and simple, and Bell isn’t about to head into unlimited territory if they can help it. If anything, this fee is a sign of things to come as carriers line up to charge us more dollars for the good stuff.

With Canada’s telecommunications giants still turning in solid profits and with their stocks nearing two-year high levels, it’s hard to imagine an ethical justification for continuing to charge consumers more money. It’s already been revealed, probably to no sensible person’s surprise, that Canada pays the highest monthly mobile rates in the developed world.

How much more will Canadian telecom consumers have to endure at the hands of these predatory providers? With few other options, the picture looks bleaker and bleaker with each emerging story.

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