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Bell’s New Bandwidth Caps Could Turn Canada Into an Oldteevee Wasteland

Canada’s Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has decided that incumbent Bell Canada can charge its wholesale ISP customers based on the bandwidth usage of their end users, as first reported by This decision puts pressure on smaller ISPs that are using Bell’s network infrastructure to implement bandwidth caps similar to those the telco is imposing on its own customers, or significantly raise prices for unmetered accounts.

Bell’s new wholesale pricing structure includes bandwidth limits of as little as 2 GB per month for the lowest-priced wholesale DSL account and charges of as much as C$1.75 ($1.59) for each GB above that limit. Customers of resell ISPs will be able to subscribe to higher tiers if they’re wiling to pay more, but Bell’s highest cap stands at 60 GB per month. Good luck to all those Canadian HD video startups.

Bell Canada has had cutthroat bandwidth caps in place for its retail DSL customers for years, and the company recently applied with the CRTC  to impose similar pricing structures on its wholesale customers, which are typically smaller ISPs that rely on the telco’s phone lines to sell DSL access. Bell proposed its new wholesale tiers in March, arguing in an application with the CRTC that “the present flat-rated pricing structure…is no longer appropriate, in light of trends of significantly increasing demand for Internet usage and the impacts that such usage is having” on Bell’s networks.

Bell’s new wholesale pricing structure and existing retail bandwidth caps in detail. Overage charges are capped at C$22.50 per month, but there are additional charges for heavy users.

The company also claimed that a tiered pricing structure would actually benefit consumers because it “encourages end-users to adjust their behavior to match their usage levels to their willingness to pay for such usage.” That’s right. Caps only encourage you to reflect on your Internet usage. Is that HD video download really worth an overage charge of eight bucks to you? No? Then go watch oldteevee and stop complaining.

Bell’s plans faced resistance from affected ISPs and end users alike, with some arguing that the company really just wanted to protect its own TV offerings by stifling potential online competition. Bell shot back, claiming that the proposal “in no way affects the adoption of new technologies…nor does (it) limit wholesalers or their end-customers from using or accessing these new technologies.”

True. Bandwidth caps alone may not completely prevent you from accessing newteevee. That’s why Bell’s got P2P throttling. The telco has been in the headlines repeatedly in recent months because it also started to impose Comcast-like P2P throttling measures on its wholesale customers.

These measures are currently under review by the CRTC, but don’t hold your breath hoping for Canadian net neutrality regulations. Essentially, if you’re a customer of a Canadian ISP like Teksavvy, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that Bell will be slowing down your torrents and charging you extra if you stream or download video through other means.

15 Responses to “Bell’s New Bandwidth Caps Could Turn Canada Into an Oldteevee Wasteland”

    • i think timekeeper is trying to scare the people of canada about what bell can do and not do. what you think bell is the military. timekeeper stop threatening people and make a fool of your self and bell. freedom and unlimited service of all what you say people.

  1. supporter

    WTF! why do they have to ruin everything, I am a college student here and I rely so much on the internet and so does everyone else.. my bills are already high as it is and they add this sh*t! I know some people are gathering about this and making a protest or some sort.. where can I sign up? or get involved? anyone?

  2. Incredible; creating artificial scarcity for demanding artificial high prices… These american corporations are worst than mafias as Al Capone, that is the truth; but the day will arrive where the major speculator of the world (which is called USA) will fall, in the same way as the Roman Empire fell too… That day will be a day of glory and liberation for the world, definitely.

  3. Even low quality video streaming services like Youtube are crippled with a 2gb cap. Hulu and co have no chance.

    Most people have no concept of bandwidth or file size, but when they’re getting charged huge overage fees for watching video online, they’ll learn pretty quick. I can’t imagine the customers of these companies will take kindly to this.

  4. timekeeper

    The problem is – it’s Canada. Bell would choke the country if it decided to slow down its network.

    They are in a powerful position and know it.

    At least it’s not as bad as the situation in Australia.

    • timekeeper
      “At least it’s not as bad as the situation in Australia.”

      You may say that now. Only time will tell what bell will decide to do next the beast can only be satisfied for so long.

  5. I am using Bell’s consumer ’16 Max plan’ in Toronto. My bandwidth cap is set at 100 GB per month – not 60 as mentioned above as Bell’s highest consumer cap.

    FYI, the 16 Gb download limit is fiction though. Even though there is fibre to my building, I only ever get 10 Gb down when I do my tests.


    • Dale, that’s a discrepancy that seems to have caused some irritation amongst resellers as well. Bell essentially claimed that the caps would be on a par with its own offerings, but the company seemed to have conveniently forgotten about higher-priced and -capped bundles.