Bad news for Canadian internet users again as Telus is significantly lowering data caps out west. As an unhappy customer explains on DSL Reports, the company is chopping usage on its fastest-speed High Speed Turbo 25 service in half, from 500 gigabytes per month to 250 GB. The High Speed and High Speed Turbo services are also taking big cuts, to 100 GB from 150 GB and 150 GB from 250 GB, respectively.
As the customer points out, subscribers to that fastest tier will be getting half the usage for the same price when these cuts take effect in February – with no explanation from the company, to boot.
I inquired with Telus and here’s the spokesperson’s full response:
Even with this change our thresholds remain the most generous in Canada. Thresholds of this sort are standard in the industry, and ours are far more generous than those of most other Canadian ISPs, in many cases more than twice as high. With this change TELUS offers a number of simple internet plans from $24 to $60 a month with speeds up to 25 MBPS and thresholds as high as a huge 400 GB a month. Our most popular mid-range plan TELUS 15, will give you up to 15 MBPS and 150 Gigs, more than enough for all but the heaviest users.
Since 2000, TELUS has invested more than $30 billion to bring Canadians some of the most advanced wireless and wireline broadband networks in the world. We have made significant investments in our network so that our customers can get the services that they want within their standard plan. In large part because of this investment our basic service is half the price of what broadband internet service first cost when it was launched 10 years ago, and our thresholds the most generous in the country. In the last few years, rates have remained about the same while the speeds and thresholds have dramatically increased, which has allowed customers to use increasingly data-heavy services, such as video streaming off the Internet.
I’m not sure what the 400 GB is in reference to, since the biggest cap apparently available as of February will be 250 GB. I’ll clarify that here if possible.
The new thresholds are, however, in line with what Shaw – Telus’s main competitor – is offering. Shaw’s 25-megabit service, for example, comes with 250 GB of usage, which is exactly what Telus’s high-end offering will now mirror.
The spokesperson is also right in saying that Telus’s caps are still generous compared to other major Canadian ISPs, such as those here in central Canada. Comparable 25-megabit services in Ontario come with a relatively paltry 80 GB or so of monthly usage.
All of that notwithstanding, the cuts are bad news for a few reasons. For one, the two big western ISPs have been sort of like a beacon of hope for the rest of the country. Last year, Shaw was planning to unveil new internet plans with low usage caps but, after hearing the backlash from customers, the company instead reversed course and came out with generous plans that put all other big ISPs to shame. Telus was forced to respond and came up with similarly big allowances.
Its new plans are essentially a reversal of that, which is puzzling in a world where monthly household usage is continually growing. The western ISPs were relatively progressive compared to their eastern peers, so it’s unfortunate to see either of them going backwards.
Coincidentally, at a Rogers event in Toronto on Tuesday, I spoke with Robert Goodman, the company’s senior director of internet product management, about usage trends. Although caps from Rogers are still lower than what’s offered out west, the company did recently move them upward, which is the direction that Goodman expects them to go in the years ahead.
Moreover, he also said that usage allowances are becoming much more important in selling internet services. While consumers used to care only about speeds and price, they’re becoming increasingly interested in how big the attached caps are.
That’s what makes Telus’s move doubly puzzling. Shaw is beating the company ably with its cable network as far as speeds are concerned, with services of up to 250 megabits available. That’s 10 times faster than what Telus is currently offering. You’d think higher usage caps would be its biggest competitive advantage.
Cynics will say it’s just a big cash grab on the company’s part, but the company doesn’t charge overages; it merely encourages customers who exceed their caps to sign up to plans with larger allowances.
Yet, with Telus moving its plans downwards, closer to what other big ISPs are doing, it’ll be interesting to see if it also eventually adopts those overage fees too.