Bell appeals CRTC ruling on mobile TV app pricing

Bell Mobility Inc., has filed a motion with the Federal Court of Appeals in the hopes of reversing a recent Canada Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruling that found the company to have unlawfully jacked up the price of competing mobile video applications and services accessed through its network.

Bell charges $5 a month for its Bell Mobile TV services and allow its customers to stream up to 10 hours of programming on their mobile devices without this usagfe being counted against the customers’ monthly wireless data cap.

However, if the customers were to stream similar content from another source, Bell counts that data usage against the customer’s data cap. As a result, Bell customer’s that opt for content from other sources pay an additional charge for bandwidth.

It its decision on January 29, the CRTC ruled that the practice was unlawful since it made mobile TV services from other providers artificially more expensive and uncompetitive. The CRTC gave Bell until April 29 to scrap its pricing model.

Bell, however, has asked the Federal Court judge to issue an injunction to prevent CRTC from enforcing its ruling until Bell has made its appeal.

Bell said there is no evidence that its pricing model harms consumers. The telecom provider contents that Bell Mobile TV is a broadcasting service and therefore is not covered by the Telecommunications Act.

This is a view rejected by Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC chairman, who said mobile TV services invoke both broadcast and telecom regulations because in order to access the service a data connection is needed.

Canadian open communication advocacy group OpenMedia, said that Bell was “taking Canadians to court so it can keep artificially inflating the price of competing apps and services.”

“Bell is doing everything in its power to make the Internet more like cable TV,” said Josh Tabish, OpenMedia campaigns manager, in a statement yesterday. ”They want the power to pick and choose what we see by forcing competing services into a more expensive toll lane online.”

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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