Videotron on the ABCs of Pricing Bandwidth

2 Nov ’06

From the Globe yesterday, some bizarre statements from Videotron on how to finance the bandwidth build-out that will be needed if it’s to profit from IPTV, VoIP and the rest: impose a tariff on the content providers, who are getting a free ride, it seems:

With video and music downloads gobbling up Internet bandwidth at an ever-expanding pace, cable company Videotron is pushing for content providers like movie studios to share some of the cost to expand broadband pipelines.

Videotron boss Robert Depatie wants the federal government to slap a transmission tariff on providers — like the music and film industry — so they can shoulder part of the burden.

The Quebec company will invest $300-million this year as its average customer uses four times more bandwidth than just a year ago, Depatie said Tuesday in a speech at a telecom conference.

He called it unfair for studios and companies like Apple and Amazon.com to use that extra service without cost — which he compared to free shipping.

“If the movie studio were to mail a DVD . . . they would expect to pay postage or courier fees,” Depatie said.

“Why should they not expect a transmission tariff?”

But Depatie said he’s against raising rates for Internet service and that it’s only fair for content providers to help foot the infrastructure cost.

“(For producers) it’s just a free ride — ‘Let’s provide movie downloads. It’s the telcos that will pay for it.'”

The answer, I suppose, to the question “Why should they not expect a transmission tariff”, is because they aren’t utter morons happy to pay twice – or more – to get their content online.

This has truly become a tedious debate.

Update: How unpleasant it is to attract lobbyist trolling. See comments, now closed.

David Canton has a lovely observation:

My perspective is that it would be equally logical for content providers to try to charge Videotron for the priviledge of allowing Videotron customers to access their content. After all, without providers of content and services such as Apple, Amazon, Google, etc., Videotron would not have customers eager to buy their services.

Update: Mike Masnick of Techdirt chimes in.

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