In a move that has disappointed many Canadian high-tech leaders and public interest groups, the CRTC has announced that it will not force Bell Canada to stop its controversial Internet throttling practices. The decision has renewed calls for Canada's policymakers to protect "net neutrality," the principle that all online content and services should be treated equally without discrimination.
The CRTC decision comes in response to a request from the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) that Bell stop throttling other Internet service providers that use its network. More than 2,000 Canadians across the country filed letters with the CRTC supporting CAIP's request.
CAIP has been in limbo since April waiting for the CRTC decision. CAIP argued that Bell's throttling practices violated telecommunication regulations, gave Bell an unfair market advantage, and interfered with Canadians' online privacy.
SaveOurNet.ca coordinator Steve Anderson says, "This decision underscores the need to protect Canada's open Internet. The CRTC's ruling skirts the real issue here: Bell's throttling of its direct competitors. We understand the need for Internet Service Providers like Bell to manage their networks. But that doesn't give them a blank cheque to behave in discriminatory or anti-competitive ways.
Policymakers in the U.S. are now moving to protect net neutrality, and Canada needs to do the same. If we don't, Canadian consumers, small businesses, and real free market competition will lose out."
Last June, CRTC head Konrad von Finckenstein said that a further, deeper probe into net neutrality and throttling on a larger scale is likely in the future. Net neutrality advocates say today's CRTC decision is the opening round in what promises to be a much larger ongoing battle.
For a decade now, the CRTC has mandated that Bell allow third-party companies to rent its network, as a way to encourage more competition and choice in Canada's Internet services market. By refusing equal treatment for CAIP members who lease the network, critics say the CRTC is failing to support competition and fair market prices for Canadian consumers and businesses.
Canadians are encouraged to tell the CRTC what they think of this decision. More information is available at http://savournet.ca.
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