The Internet is serious business. Especially USENET. These days, a number of businesses absolutely require the Internet and USENET newsgroups to function. This is especially true if those companies are looking to stream media content to their customers or to access newsgroups to research and find information. When Internet service providers gouge their customers for bandwidth, they’re less likely to use said streaming services. It’s for this reason that Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer, isn’t a big fan of Canadian providers.
Sarandos talked of Canadian ISPs bandwidth limitations, saying “it’s almost a human rights violation what they’re charging for Internet access in Canada”. There are Canadian ISPs with download caps as low as 15GB for a month, with excess billing charges if you burst through the 15GB limit.
In Canada, Netflix has even been forced to change its model for streaming, offering SD video as the default option rather than HD. For those who don’t know, Canada’s ISPs enforce strict data caps that make U.S. ISPs look like saints. Many Canadian ISPs offer a measly 15GB a month and charge large overage fees for those who go over said cap. The ISPs that don’t use caps are actually much worse because they charge by use. The average HD stream from Netflix is a few GB of data which translates to a rather hefty bill each month.
Data caps from an ISP is a major inconvenience for its subscriber base, especially those who frequent USENET newsgroups. Thankfully, the concept hasn’t really taken off in the U.S. ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable have dabbled in the idea of implementing data caps in some markets, but the moves have been met with a lot of resistance. Perhaps Canadian lawmakers should start looking out for their constituents’ best interests and ban low data caps.