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Uproar Over Eastlink’s 15GB Usage Limit Brings Call to Ban Data Caps in Rural Canada

EastlinkLogoA plan to place a 15GB monthly usage cap on Eastlink broadband service in rural Nova Scotia has led to calls to ban data caps, with a NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia leading the charge.

NDP MLA Sterling Belliveau is calling on the Liberal government to prohibit Eastlink from placing Internet data caps on rural broadband.

“This newly announced cap really sends us back to the 1990s when it comes to technology,” Belliveau said in a news release Tuesday. “The province paid $20 million to bring this service to rural communities, and as such, the Minister of Business needs to tell Eastlink this can’t stand.”

Belliveau’s office is being flooded with complaints from residents and business owners upset about Eastlink’s data cap, which includes a $2/GB overlimit fee, up to a maximum of $20.

“Only rural customers get penalized for using the Internet,” complained Angel Flanagan on Twitter. “We can’t have Netflix or YouTube. Eastlink, stop this cap and upgrade your services and give us better Internet. We don’t need to use it less.”

“I am so angry about the Internet capping,” said Emma Davis. “Eastlink you are out of your goddamn minds. Rural Nova Scotia is entering the Dark Ages.”

rural connect

Eastlink’s Rural Connect package is a wireless service, delivering speeds up to 1.5Mbps at a cost of $46.95 a month. The service is provided where wired providers are generally not available, including Annapolis, Hants, Digby, Yarmouth, Queens, Lunenburg, Shelburne and Kings counties. Eastlink says its new usage cap was designed to accommodate “intended usage like surfing the web, reading/sending emails, social media, e-commerce, accessing government services, etc. — and NOT video streaming, for which the service was not intended.”

Belliveau

Belliveau

Eastlink’s continued dependence on a low capacity wireless network platform has conflicted with the changing needs of Internet users, who increasingly use high bandwidth applications like streaming video that can quickly clog wireless ISP traffic.

When the service was designed, the popular video streaming service “Netflix was shipping DVDs by mail,” says Eastlink spokesperson Jill Laing.

The cap was implemented to “address Internet traffic, which we believe will help provide equal access to the service and deliver a better overall rural Internet experience for customers,” Laing wrote.

Eastlink says the average customer uses about 12GB of traffic, excluding video streaming. Setting a usage cap at 15GB should not be a problem for customers who stay off Netflix, argues the ISP.

“Those who are using the service as it was intended to be used should not be impacted by monthly usage,” she wrote.

The fact Eastlink labeled some traffic legitimate while video streaming was discouraged did not go over well with customers.

“Who made them Internet Gods when our provincial tax dollars helped finance their Internet project,” asks Al Fournier. “The very fact they would suggest a 15GB cap with a straight face in 2015 should be ringing alarm bells in Ottawa about the rural broadband crisis in Canada.”

nova scotiaFournier suspects Eastlink has not invested enough to keep up with a growing Internet because the service originally advertised itself as a way to listen to online music and watch video. But he also wonders if the data cap is an attempt to force the government to fund additional upgrades to get Eastlink to back down.

“This is why wireless ISPs suck for 21st century Internet,” Fournier argues. “They are incapable of keeping up with growing traffic and bandwidth needs and need to be retired in favor of fiber.”

But at least one wireless provider in Nova Scotia does not understand why Eastlink is making a fuss over data caps.

Cape Breton’s Seaside Wireless Communications offers Internet access in Antigonish, Cape Breton, Colchester, Cumberland, Guysborough, Inverness, Pictou, Richmond and Victoria counties, along with rural parts of Halifax County, and has no data caps.

“It is not even on our radar,” said Loran Tweedie, CEO of Seaside Wireless. “This is a differential we are proud of.”

Some Nova Scotians are also questioning why their Internet service is being capped while rural Eastlink customers in Newfoundland, Labrador and Ontario can continue to use the Internet cap-free, at least for now. Others are suspicious about the future of Eastlink’s maximum cap on overlimit fees, currently $20. Canadian providers have a history of raising the maximum cap, subjecting customers to greater fees.

“It’s hard to speak to what will happen over time. We’ll certainly evaluate where we’re at later in the fall,” said Laing.

Liberal provincial Business Minister Mark Furey said he was aware of Eastlink’s rural broadband data cap but only promised to monitor the situation for now.

Starting next month, Eastlink’s rural Internet packages will be capped at 15 gigabytes of usage per month. CBC Radio Nova Scotia’s “Information Morning” program speaks with Eastlink and Port Royal resident Gary Ewer about the impact the usage cap will have. (10:15)

You must remain on this page to hear the clip, or you can download the clip and listen later.

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Victoria Herron
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Victoria Herron

It is wrong that you are going to limit our usage amount. WE pay more then enough for the service we get. i myself don’t use that much but I want to be able to use it however much I want without worrying about it. I often am on in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and sometimes not at all during the day but other times I can be on for 1 hour during the morning and then again in the afternoon. How much I use it should be my choice, I am paying you for… Read more »

Sora87
Guest
Sora87

Now if only they had common sense and listened to you

Connie Conrad
Guest
Connie Conrad

Eastlink’s proposed Cap for Internet usage in rural communities is Hogwash!
They have absolutely no problem charging what they want and as rural residents
we pay. In the news item I read, Eastlink stated that the amount of GB we have
was only for surfing the Web and email! No one ever said that when we got internet!
We honestly have no choice in this situation and it simply isn’t fair!

Jayn
Guest
Jayn

Agreed. Not to mention that Skype is an important tool for friends and family to stay connected these days. My parents live in an affected area and telling them “no video streaming ” is akin to telling them “you can’t see your grandson anymore”.

I get that there can be practical issues in upgrading service, but don’t cite “intended use” as why there’s no real problem.

Angela Acker
Guest
Angela Acker

I can’t believe they are trying to do this,, I live 10 km outside the town limits of Bridgewater and I can’t even get their “rural service” and I live less that 2 km from where their wired service ends, I feel they fell very short of what our government expected them to do

Shawna Smith
Guest
Shawna Smith

I am very interested to know why I am just reading this now online, shouldn’t Eastlink be providing this information with our monthly bill. I was never given the information when I signed up for this service that our usage was or would be limited. That just bad business practice for Eastlink, take the government funding, effectively tax $, sign up customers, then down the road change the service instead of upgrading equipment to accomodate usage. What other internet provider has been able to invest so little capital, receive government funding and refuse to provide the service needed. I for… Read more »

Llewellyn
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Llewellyn

I disagree with the bandwidth limit. Eastlink is doing this because they are in control of the fact that people in rural areas have no other alternatives besides dial-up. If there were other alternatives, there prices would be better and we would have no limit. I have the wireless broadband and is completely dissatisfied with the service. My understanding is they were contracted by the government to give rural residents high speed. I’ve had trouble with connections and they wouldn’t even send a tech person out. And now this limit is even more discouraging. If there’s ever an alternative, I’ll… Read more »

Brittany
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Brittany

We don’t even have dial-up out in Melbourne, Pinkney’s Point, Little River Harbour or Comeau’s Hill anymore and there is no high speed service, only broadband which has 60 some odd people and can barely have facebook working right on a good day!

Rosemary
Guest
Rosemary

Hi I heard that there is nothing out there besides eastlink there is City Wide commutions we live in Saulnerivell and we can get home phone and internet for $72 taxs in

Terry Boudreau
Guest
Terry Boudreau

That is not right they are ripping us off to begin with. 1 mbps of service more like 0.3 to 0.6 mbps. It has been 2 years since I seen 1 mbps. It is 2015 and they can’t get anything better then that. There not trying because they don’t care. I have been on the phone with them many times. In town regular service high speed internet is 20 mbps so that is 20 rural houses to one bill in town limits. Nice pay. FAR NO so kick us again and cap us. What they are doing is mind blowing… Read more »

Marion
Guest
Marion

Iam sure when I sign up for Eastlink. .it was for unlimited. ..it sincerely hope this cap is banned.

Jen Carter
Guest
Jen Carter

I live in an area where there are no other “high” speed internet service providers – so I am feeling trapped. There is also no cable service where I live – so… my options are??? This is surely due to lack of infrastructure to keep up the the demand. For them to cite what folks should be doing while using their internet is ridiculous. They are making these demands from areas that have no option but to keep them – not in areas where folks can get other providers. And then to find out our tax $$ provided them with… Read more »

S.g.
Guest
S.g.

the list of things about which Mark Furey is unaware could fill a Wikipedia page.
The Eastlink spokesperson lied about capacity. they throttle the speed to save money. Eastlink wireless is the slowest of 17 systems available in Canada.
My neighbours who live 200 metres from us have wired service.We got stuck with wireless,installed at a greater cost to them than what it would have cost to extend the wire.

Tahl
Guest
Tahl

Eastlinks reasons are just excuses, really they don’t want to put any more money into rural internet to deal with the traffic issue. We have no options up here for service providers, I can get horrible over priced satellite tv and our land line was no better so I use the internet for both and pay under 60 dollars a month instead or over 200. Highspeed internet is important to rural areas, the internet is how we keep our options open.

Sora87
Guest
Sora87

Look at it this way. Data Caps represent your freedom on the Internet. They are effectively limiting your Freedom by putting a Cap on it. In this case you have 15GBs of Freedom. After which if you value your Freedom you pay the Company more for another GB of Freedom. After only 10 more GBs of Freedom you are a slave to the Company for the last 29Days. To make it worse they have an Extortion game going where they use there slaves as hostages to get more Money out of the Government to Upgrade and they never do. Instead… Read more »

Craig Hubley
Guest
Craig Hubley

1. “Data caps” do not exist in the real developed world. They exist in Canada only because of a total lack of co-ordinated investment in Internet infrastructure. Every other country has a national broadband program that improves backhaul fibre optics between towns on highways and long stretches of barren road. Maine, for instance, has a “Three Ring Binder” of 1100 miles of dark fibre optic cable already built with more on the way. This can be accessed at flat rates of 9 to 15 cents per month per mile. However in Nova Scotia there is no such guarantee of low… Read more »

Craig Hubley
Guest
Craig Hubley

IT’S NOT NETFLIX Here’s how you know the Eastlink story is a plain lie: This “data cap” will do absolutely nothing to prevent contention and poor performance on peak viewing times like weekday evenings. If the cap applied to usage only in peak periods like say 7pm-11pm Sunday to Friday almost no one would have much problem with it, given support for configuring updates, downloads, etc. to avoid these times. There are at least a dozen technical solutions to apply (including throttling only the high-quality/HD Netflix connections, throttling upgrade/update and other buik traffic) before going to a data cap only… Read more »

arbin
Guest
arbin

“Jill Laing confirmed this week that Eastlink had withdrawn its bid to provide services to under-served rural areas of Nova Scotia under a federal government program called Connecting Canadians, saying the funding levels were not adequate to deliver wired Internet technology to remote areas.” http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/business/1298376-brighton-technological-backwaters-in-the-internet-era

In other words, Seaside is competent and Eastlink is not. Time to point this out to investors, potential employees, customers, and everyone else who might have a choice not to choose Eastlink.

Join the facebook group
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Eastlinks-cap-on-Rural-internet/481651228670394

caliseo
Guest
caliseo

What I don’t understand is why does the crtc allow their to be a data cap at all, last I check data isn’t a Limited resource where when we run out that’s it.

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