Telus notified broadband consumers that beginning March 30 they will be penalized if they surpass their monthly Internet data allowance of 50 GB per month. This development indicates that Canada's incumbent telcos are starting to adopt a usage-based billing system similar to what is emerging in the United States.
Starting March 30, consumers will be charged $3.99 for 50GB of data and those that exceed that threshold will be charged $7.95 for each additional 50GB of data, up to a maximum monthly cost of $60.
Telus is taking a page from the playbook of U.S.-based broadband provider AT&T (NYSE: T), which charges customers an automatic $10 a for each additional 50 GB of data, but AT&T waives this charge for the first two times that the user exceeds their monthly plan limit.
Like AT&T and cable MSOs such as Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) that have implemented usage based billing, Telus claims that the extra charges would only affect really heavy users.
Going forward, the service provider said that it will notify users by e-mail if they go over three specific thresholds. Those thresholds include reaching 75 percent of the data allowance; reaching 95 percent of the data allowance or exceeding the data allowance.
"Most Telus customers are already on an Internet plan that meets their current needs," Telus said in a user page on their web site. "Only those that exceed their plan – the heaviest Internet users – will incur an additional charge. If you are one of those customers, you will be notified before being charged."
Not surprisingly, the key driver in Telus' consumers growing broadband use is the advent of online video applications like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX).
"As a result, in the last 16 months alone our customers' monthly Internet data usage has more than doubled," Telus said. "Further, much of this consumption is being driven by a minority of our customers – in fact, less than 5% of our Internet customers are consuming 25% of the data on our network in any given month."
- see Telus' user page
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