Usage Based Billing – now this would be good if it applied to my cable bill!

“You should pay for what you use, ” says some form of logic. Perhaps even good logic.

We pay for the water, gas, and electricity we use, why not bandwidth says the Canadian Telecom industry?

The Canadian Telecom industry does not apply this logic very evenly. I have never got a discount for using less cable TV, a rebate for the channels I don’t watch, a refund for unused cell phone minutes, or long distance, but I could pay for using too much. An even application of the Usage Based Billing (UBB) pricing model might be good public policy.


I truly do use water, gas, and electricity. I flush it, burn it, and destroy it – quite literally. Bandwidth is not really destroyed, so borrowing a pricing model from the energy sector may not work. It didn’t for Enron when they started trading Bandwidth Futures.

Good public policy would have its society meter those things that it wants to limit. We need to limit the amount of energy and water we destroy. Do we want to limit societies use and access to the Internet? Our power to innovate? Of course not.

Canada’s digital infrastructure is not improving fast enough. What should we do? Allow UBB? Allow Google to deliver Internet to Canadians? Pay taxes to allow improvement of Canada’s infrastructure?

Are there any other choices? Increase foreign ownership, increase costs for consumers, increase taxes.