About the CRTC’s Campaign Trail Fodder for Northern Conservative Candidates

The CRTC did this morning what federal bureaucracies will do when they’re feeling their oats and issued a stern-sounding press release with a grand title (CRTC lowering rates for Internet services in northern Canada) but little real substance.

Instead, the government regulator outlined some half measures that will have very limited impact beyond handing northern Conservative candidates a pitch-perfect campaign trail boast: “Harper’s Conservatives lowered internet rates in the North!” Decide for yourself where that statement manifests within a politician’s fifty shades of brown.

Really, the CRTC just swung a Nerf bat in the general direction of northern Canada’s monopoly telecommunications utility, then shook its fist in the air menacingly… and walked away.

Lowered Rates on “Certain” Services

The “lowered rates” in question are limited to DSL services, which are largely used only in certain northern regions. In the larger cities there are few DSL users – most of us are on cable – and so this has pretty minimal interest for the majority of the northern population.

The service cost reductions should have been across the board.

Rate Freeze

This is the part where the CRTC waved its fist in the air and scowled.

Putting a freeze on rate increases for a couple of years helps, but you have to wonder how much higher the rates could be raised without the utility blatantly embarrassing itself anyway. And, to be fair, rates have generally been going down gradually over the years, so this CRTC order is really just some hot air.

There should have been ongoing service cost reduction targets scheduled out over the next few years.

Unbundled

Does the utility even bundle phone and internet services together any more? There’s nothing on its web site to suggest it does. This order seems to be a random belch on the CRTC press release. Maybe I’m wrong though, and this service is cleverly hidden.

Either way: pas grand chose.

Penalty Fee Reduction

Finally, a decrease in internet data over-use penalties is always welcome, but a 50 cent reduction per GB a year from now just ain’t enough.

Any cost reduction is welcome, of course – beggars can’t be choosers – but considering the more respectful over-use fees that southern Canadians are charged (just 10 cents per GB at Telus, for example), the northern internet penalty of $2 to $2.50 per GB is simply egregious.

The CRTC should have forced the northern internet penalty down to around 40 cents per GB immediately for all customers.