The CRTC's decision to allow large internet providers to charge for excessive bandwidth use, while granting independent internet service providers a small discount, fails to safeguard affordable access to the internet, an internet advocacy group said Tuesday.

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Internet advocacy groups are disappointed with the CRTC's decision to allow the large providers to set the rate for bandwidth usage. ((CBC))

In a long-awaited decision, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission  ruled that the large providers could determine the rates charged to the smaller firms using their bandwidth. However, the telecommunications regulator also determined that independent ISPs should get a 15-per cent discount from incumbents' rates.

The large providers such as Bell, Rogers and Shaw are mandated to lease their networks to the smaller Canadian providers.

OpenMedia.ca, which introduced a petition with more than 40,000 signatures to stop internet metering, said it was disappointed by the decision.

"The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has taken a small a step in the right direction, which OpenMedia.ca acknowledges, but the public engagement organization also believes that the Commission has failed to safeguard consumer choice and affordable access to the internet," the group said in a statement.

The group said the decision allows the large service providers "to force usage-based billing [overage fees] onto their independent competitors and Canadians writ large." It warned that broadband usage would cost Canadians much more.

"The CRTC has once again left the wolves in charge of the henhouse. Canadians have come out in unprecedented numbers and demanded an affordable internet, and while there is evidence that this has moved the CRTC, they have not gone nearly far enough," said Steve Anderson, OpenMedia.ca's national co-ordinator.

"It is deeply disappointing that the commission has decided to give a few companies a free hand to engage in economic discrimination and crush innovation. Now is the moment for forward-looking, visionary policymaking, not half-measures and convoluted compromises with the companies trying to kill the open internet."