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CRTC Embarrassed By FCC Net Neutrality Actions?

Phillip Dampier September 22, 2009 Canada, Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't, Recent Headlines, Video No Comments
Professor Geist

Professor Geist

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission, the Canadian equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, may be forced to consider American broadband policy before defining Net Neutrality and its role in Canadian broadband, according to an article published today in The Globe & Mail.

[FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s] proposal – to codify and enforce some general principles of “Net neutrality” – comes as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is expected to release its own position this fall, after public consultations this summer that prompted feedback from tens of thousands of Canadians.

“The kinds of principles that the FCC is now looking to put into rules are precisely what the CRTC heard from many groups this past summer,” said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. “The kinds of concerns that Canadians have been expressing have clearly been taken to heart by the FCC.”

Many Canadian citizens have been unhappy with the CRTC after a summer of hearings and policy decisions which have almost universally-favored Canadian broadband providers’ positions.  The CRTC seemed skeptical during hearings over the urgency to enforce Net Neutrality protections and stop provider’s throttling of peer to peer networks.  But consumers were even more upset when the Commission agreed with Bell, Canada’s largest phone company and wholesale broadband provider, and allowed the company to impose “usage based billing (UBB)” (Internet Overcharging) on wholesale buyers — primarily independent Internet Service Providers.  Canadian customers attempting to avoid usage caps and consumption billing relied on more generous policies from independent providers, policies likely to be revoked with the imposition of UBB, potentially making flat rate broadband service in Canada largely extinct.

In general terms, Net neutrality refers to the concept that access to all legal content on the Internet should be equal. The concept often comes up in relation to the practice of “bandwidth throttling,” where ISPs limit the transfer speed of certain kinds of data – such as the transfer of large movie files between users – but not other kinds.

Many large Canadian ISPs have argued that network management doesn’t affect Net neutrality, and taking away an ISP’s ability to manage its network results in worse service for a large number of customers.

Currently, there is no uniform practice among large ISPs in Canada when it comes to network management. Some firms throttle bandwidth during certain times of the day, whereas other limit bandwidth all the time, or not at all. A CRTC ruling this fall could go a long way toward implementing a uniform code for all ISPs.

“In light of what we’ve seen today, [the CRTC ruling] will be particularly telling because the benchmark now isn’t just what the CRTC heard during this hearing, the benchmark now is our neighbours to the south,” Prof. Geist said. “The CRTC will in many ways be measured up against what the FCC is doing in the U.S.”

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  • Write about this: I went out and bought a new doc sis 3 compatible modem...now they are still trying to charge me the 10 dollar fee and my account is showing two modems...
  • Joe V: You forgot to mention Phil that Comcast as horrible as they are, there's another telecom giant just as bad : AT&T-they also imposed usage-base...
  • lllllll: While yes Google can cause harm right now they aren't the problem. The main Problem is these corrupt ISPs that refuse to upgrade the Network and Expan...
  • Limboaz: Not happy times for Comcrap. Hopefully this signifies a new trend of activism when it comes to regulators overseeing companies that refuse to play fai...
  • Phillip Dampier: We know John Malone and Charter are still very interested, but the last attempt met with a hostile response from TWC management. There will need to be...
  • Bob: So does Charter now step in as the new suitor ?...
  • lllllll: T-Mobile cut off limit is Somewhere over a few TBs/ Month. Also I'm not in a Semi Rural Area Either. I'm in a decent size City. Data Usage doesn't equ...
  • Phillip Dampier: I think what is unique is that Google can seamlessly switch between T-Mobile and Sprint, which is a good way to deal with both carriers' temperamental...
  • Phillip Dampier: I thought T-Mobile throttled unlimited users if they got 'out of hand', whatever that means. I assume IIIIIII is in a semi-rural area where tower cong...
  • Limboaz: Ironic a mobile phone company can deliver that kind of bandwidth while cable ISPs using a fiber-optic infrastructure have to be so miserly. The cable/...
  • lllllll: I used 321.37GBs last month from my T-Mobile Phone that's Unlimited. It's going to be more this month....
  • Limboaz: I won't be switching any time soon. It only cost me an extra $20/month to add unlimited data to my T-Mobile phone. Last month I used 30 GB of data. At...

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