As a forward, this piece is less about complaining about the price increases than it is about exploring the reasoning behind it. Being that an undiscussed part of both net neutrality and an ever more interconnected world are bandwidth and bandwidth infrastructure costs. The 2 are not inherently connected, but ignoring this aspect can often time lead to that end.
Canadians’ thirst for fast, reliable internet service has surged in recent years, and so has the amount we’re paying to stay connected.
For many customers, the cost of home internet is about to get even more pricey as the big telecom companies hike rates once again.
“Internet is expensive enough,” said Rogers customer Eric Polsinelli of Oshawa, Ont. “There’s nothing I see on my end that justifies that extra $8.”
On March 12, Rogers will raise prices for all its current internet plans by $8 a month, with the exception of its cheapest package, which will rise by $4 a month.
On April 1, Bell will increase internet prices by $5 a month for customers in Ontario and by $3 a month for Quebecers. In both provinces, charges for exceeding one’s internet data limit will also go up by $1 to $4 per extra gigabyte.
Rival Telus says it has no current plans to raise internet prices. However, some customers are still feeling the pinch after the company ended its bundle discount in late January, which provided customers who signed up for multiple services a monthly discount of $3 per service.
Rogers, Bell and Telus also hiked prices on some internet plans in 2017.
Though I don’t subscribe to any of the above 3 for any home services (my communities cable company is a co-operative with far superior service), my costs for both cable tv and internet have gone up about 3 bucks a month as of April 1st. Bell is the only provider of the 3 that one can access where I live (thanks to their acquisition of regional telco MTS, creating BellMTS).
If memory serves, the cost also went up at this time last year. It’s not something I pay much attention to (inflation and other costs do change prices on an ongoing basis).
News of the latest round of price increases didn’t sit well with some customers.
“I would rather not pay more, but what can I do?” said Bell customer Larry McLean of Toronto, who also got hit with the same $5 internet price hike in 2017.
“I’m tired of price gouging,” Polsinelli tweeted to Rogers after learning his current $70 internet bill is going up by $8 a month.
I feel for these people. Money is tight, and $8 does seem a bit much.
However, I really wish that the first interviews of news organizations on stories like this (prices on commodity X are rising) were not with ordinary folks annoyed with the price increase. It’s a fact that many people demand a certain level of access or privilege in many contexts even if they don’t want to pay for it. As such, it be nice to have an explanation of WHY these costs are going up before you start giving every angry nobody a megaphone.
Yes, in the days of social media, the media has to incorporate your voice. None the less, there is a reason why these people weren’t given a spot on the screen in past years.
Rogers, Bell and Telus all said they need to raise internet prices — or in Telus’s case, end the bundle discount — to generate the funds required to upgrade their networks and keep up with growing demand for their services.
“We’re continually investing to deliver great value and fast, reliable internet for our customers now and in the future as demand continues to grow,” Rogers spokesperson Michelle Kelly said in an email.
Telecommunications consultant Lawrence Surtees says telcos do have added costs when they expand their networks. However, he’s not certain that explains why internet prices have continued to creep up over the past couple of years.
“They budget that, they figure out how much it’s going to cost, then they do an increase. I’m not quite sure why they need to do second or third increases,” said Surtees, with market intelligence firm IDC Canada.
“I’m a bit skeptical.”
When it comes to corporations, it’s good to have a healthy dose of skepticism towards almost anything that they publicly say. Particularly in relation to the costs of business. However, I do have to wonder if there might be some justification for these expenses due to the sheer number of both telephone and cable cord cutters driven by cheaper online alternatives in recent years.
Both telecom and cable providers (though the distinction is almost nil at this point being that both offer the same services in most markets) lose revenue when consumers cut off phone and/or cable services, yet they still end up delivering both services (VIA broadband channels) despite this revenue loss. Cord cutters tend to use more bandwidth, which then has to be accounted for on top of the other loss of revenue.
Polsinelli says his family uses the internet for everything from their phone service to watching Netflix.
Still, he says he’s not prepared to pay more for what he’s getting.
“I rely on the internet, but I need to be realistic as a consumer here.”
To make his point, Polsinelli informed Rogers on Twitter that he’s considering moving to upstart internet service provider TekSavvy.
“If they’re not going to at least match the prices I can get somewhere else, I will just abandon ship,” he said.
And there you have it, the all for nothing mentality on perfect display.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against people shopping around for the best bang for their buck. And I am certainly not going to come to Roger’s defense (in a nutshell, they are Canada’s Comcast). None the less however, this is a perfect example of what I see as the opposite extreme in terms of the net neutrality debate. On one side, are ISP excuses. But on the other, are those that seem to demand EVERYTHING, but for nothing.
I have to be careful not to look like I am taking a side on this. Because the only thing I can truly say that I am is unsure. It is a benefit for us to do this cost analysis independently because even if we choose not to, the ISP’s will continue to run the numbers for us. Which is almost NEVER EVER going to be for our benefit.
I have already delved into this hypothetical in some detail in my piece Should There Be A General Internet Tax? – An Exploration.
In a nutshell, yes.
Privatization of this all-important infrastructure has created numerous issues with its transition into an all-important public space. From increasing costs on private companies hesitant to make the required large commitments to the so-called Free Speech Crisis of the social media realm.
To conclude, I decided to reference this CBC article because of it’s highlighting of an issue that will only become more prevalent in upcoming years.
We MUST keep our eyes on the ball, because even if we don’t, the ISP’s most certainly will be.