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Broadband’s Future in Canada

Michael Geist has had much to say about the recent CRTC decision related to broadband and internet access in Canada.  In a recent article discussing the UBB aftermath, he points out the following:

After years of limited competition (roughly the same plans with slight variations in speed, pricing and caps designed chiefly to make comparisons difficult), those crunching the numbers may well look at the pricing, see higher costs, and invariably assume that means prices on existing plans will be on the rise. That may be true for some ISPs (though not all), but the real challenge is to begin to shift away from “me-too” plans that offer slightly better pricing or larger data caps in the hope of capturing some marketshare from the incumbents. That approach has been used for years and has left the independent ISPs with six percent of the marketplace. There may be a segment of the Canadian market that wants independent ISPs offering similar plans at slightly better pricing but it isn’t a big one.

There’s no doubt that Canada is due for some competition from the ‘same old, same old’ packages that Bell and Rogers go back and forth with, like Coke and Pepsi and he offers Canadians some relief based on the recent CRTC decision.  While things aren’t perfect, there’s a possibility that we could see truly innovative delivery packages from independent ISPs in the form of the following subscription packages.  Geist offers the following as just a few ideas as to how this might happen:

  • Peak timing plans that offer unlimited for much of the day and a reasonable cap during peak periods.
  • Rate limited plans that offer hundreds of GB per month at full speed and then slow down for the rest of the month if the customer exceeds the cap (with customer profiles broadly distributed throughout the 30 day cycle to better manage the network)
  • Plans that allow users to rollover unused data the following month (particularly for use during off-peak times)
  • Skinny basic broadband plans that take advantage of $14.00 access to give a segment of the public relatively cheap, no-frills broadband
  • Plans targeted to specific communities, such as Freedom 65 broadband plan for older demographics that may have different usage patterns from younger demographics

I’ve already moved everything over to TekSavvy, basically knowing that all they can do is piggy-back off Bell’s residential DSL line.  While this is a start, I’d love to see more aggressive plans as a result of this CRTC decision.  The expansion of low-cost internet access will spell a rapid increase in opportunity for digital media innovators and cap the cash flow of Canada’s media monopolies.