Media Release – Pricing and the Future of the Internet: Considering the Ramifications of Usage Based Billing

Press Release, Disruption, Frontier Centre

Winnipeg: Today the Frontier Centre for Public Policy released Usage Based Billing for Internet Access and The Future of the Internet. The study is authored by Roland Renner, a consultant who has worked in telecommunications, broadcasting, and Intelligent Transportation Systems for many years. 

The paper recommends that the policy and regulatory structure for telecom, internet access and video distribution should be consistent with technology advancements, allowing Canadians full access to internet video, and the opportunity to participate in new service developments. Usage Based Billing (UBB) is particularly important at this time because it links to several other key telecom issues that include replacing the connection from households to the telecom network (the last mile) with fibre optic technology for faster speeds and new services.  The paper reviews options for replacing the last mile and recommends those that favour customer choice and competition. 

Renner finds the current Bell Canada billing proposal wanting.  “The growth of Internet video” writes Renner, “threatens the revenue for the traditional cable and satellite video packages and the more recent Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) service offered by telephone companies.”  Hence, Bell Canada proposed internet UBB as a solution to congestion in the network caused by the growth of Internet video will mean a large price increase for frequent users of Internet video.  But it will not sufficiently solve the problem of congestion.

Opponents have argued that Bell is using its dominant market power in the last mile connecting households to the network to discourage customers from switching to Internet video in favour of its IPTV system, to delay replacing the old last mile technology and to maintain revenue by changing the pricing structure.  In Renner’s analysis, the issue is more than just being able to accommodate clients who watch TV on the internet.  “This is also about using the internet to telecommute and reduce road congestion; it is about enabling people in rural and remote areas to participate more fully in economic opportunities; it is about building capacity to provide much faster speeds enabling the creation and delivery of new services,” says Renner. 

The author hopes that the federal body that regulates telecommunications, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will go past mere UBB and address the last mile and other related issues.  “The CRTC has several proceedings related to this set of connected issues.  For many years, the telecommunications industry has been moving in a direction of more competition and more consumer choice.  That direction should be continued in the decisions taken over the next few months,” he says.



Roland Renner is a consultant who has worked in telecommunications, broadcasting and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). He has participated in the transition of telecommunications and broadcasting from monopoly to competitive policy and regulatory environments, and has been involved in numerous regulatory proceedings.

He held management positions at Bell Canada and Telesat Canada. As a consultant he worked with PwC Consulting and Nordicity Group, he advised clients on new market opportunities in a changing regulatory climate. He has also worked for both public and private sector clients in Canada, Germany, Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.


Download a copy of Usage Based Billing for Internet Access and The Future of the Internet HERE.


For more information and to arrange an interview with the study's author, media (only) should contact:

Roland Renner

Tel: (613) 612-0501


Marco Navarro-Genie, PhD

Director of Research