The Internet Workers’ Union has reported a new surge in internetwork fees for Nova Scotia’s internetworking providers, which are charging customers an extra $10 a month to connect to the internet in the province.
Internetworking providers in Halifax include Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia Telecom, NovaTel and Telstra.
Internetwork services are typically offered by internet service providers, such as Netflix and Spotify, that have set prices for their customers.
“Internetworking fees have increased dramatically and now people are being charged an extra 10 per cent per month just to use the internet,” said Jennifer McLean, the director of Nova Scotia Telecommunications.
McLean said Halifax’s internet users are being forced to pay for the service they want.
The Halifax Regional Utilities Commission is the only agency charged for internetwork services in Nova Scotia, which has not been the case in other provinces.
But McLean is concerned that this could lead to internetworking services being more expensive than they should be.
Mclean said the increase in internetworking fee rates is causing some Nova Scotians to choose to drop internet services altogether.
“Some people are opting out because of the internetwork service, so we’re seeing some of those internet providers charging them even more for internet,” McLean told CBC News.
The Nova Scotia Utility Commission (NSUC) has not yet released an estimate for the new internetworking rate increase.
McElhany said it is not unusual for internet providers to increase internet fees, but it’s more common to see internetworking rates increase more than 10 per of the provincial average.
“It’s a little bit different than the other provinces, where they charge the same amount for internet and internetworking,” McElHany said.
“So it’s just a little different that’s being seen in Nova Scotia, and I think it’s a good thing to keep an eye on.”
McEl-hany added that she expects internetwork rates to increase over time, with internet service fees expected to rise in 2019.
However, she said she believes the rate increase for Nova Scotian internet users will only increase as the internet grows in demand.
“We’ve got a lot of people who are going to need internet, and it will just get more expensive,” McGlane said.
McGlany said she expects Nova Scotias internet users to be able to continue using their internet service until the internet increases by another 10 per or 15 per cent.
McEllan, the Nova Scotia telecommunications union director, said she is concerned internetworking companies are not complying with Nova Scotia legislation and regulations.
“I don’t want to see Nova Scotia internet become the norm in the country, but that’s not the case,” she said.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said internetwork providers in the Atlantic province are currently paying a premium rate to the Nova Scotial Utilities Commission (NUC) for internet service in the case of internetworks services.
McNeil also said Nova Scotia has a long-standing agreement with Canada to provide internet services to all residents.
However McEllans fears that could change.
“The Nova Scotia Government is looking at internet service as a critical service that must be provided by all Nova Scotiacans and we want to ensure that internet services are provided as efficiently as possible,” McEllane said in a statement.
McRae, the telecoms union president, said it’s the Nova-Scotian Government’s responsibility to ensure Nova Scotia residents have access to the best possible internet.
“Our industry is working with all of the municipalities to make sure that Nova Scotiians have the best internet possible,” she told CBC Nova Scotia.
“And we need to continue to be flexible and flexible in that regard.”
McElland said she does not want internet services being too expensive, but she does want internet providers offering the service in a fair and transparent way.
“What we want is the government to work with us, to work for us, and to get that price right for our customers.”