Canada Gets New Neutrality Rules
How good they are depends on who you ask...
by Karl Bode 02:24PM Wednesday Oct 21 2009 Tipped by blueeyesm
While the United States FCC prepares to begin construction of new network neutrality rules tomorrow, users in Canada saw Canadian regulatory authority the CRTC issue some new network neutrality rules today. While the new rules don't prohibit Canadian ISPs from imposing the network management of their choice, they do force carriers to be wholly transparent with consumers, while giving retail customers thirty days and consumers at least 60 days before imposing any new traffic management.
The CRTC's involvement was of course triggered when Bell Canada decided to start throttling wholesale customers without telling them in the Spring of 2008
. Independent Canadian ISPs complained the throttling was to prevent them from offering an unthrottled residential broadband alternative to Bell Canada's throttled DSL services. Bell Canada claimed congestion made such throttling necessary, but struggled to provide hard data to prove it
The CRTC's ruling today appears to be a mixed bag. While it does demand transparency and advanced notice from ISPs, it seems to encourage the kind of usage based billing
(UBB) that Bell Canada has been pushing for. Independent ISPs complain the UBB model threatens to put them out of business
because it charges wholesalers for bandwidth up front and
on via a usage meter on the other end ("double dipping
") for any customer usage over 60GB per month. The ruling indicates the CRTC prefers caps and meters over throttling, but will permit both:
Whenever possible, ISPs should give preference to Internet traffic management practices based on economic measures. These practices are the most transparent as they are clearly identified on monthly bills. With this information, consumers can compare between different Internet services and match their bandwidth needs with the amount they are willing to pay. Technical means to manage traffic, such as traffic shaping, should only be employed as a last resort.
However, the agency goes on to note that they're not yet approving these new UBB models, though their language certainly sounds like they're going to. The CRTC also says they're adopting "special rules" to ensure that ISPs "do not use Internet traffic management practices to cause competitive harm to their wholesale customers." The CRTC's policy document
has a section entitled "competitive neutrality" that discusses these rules:
For wholesale services there will be additional scrutiny. When an ISP employs more restrictive ITMPs for its wholesale services than for its retail services, it will require Commission approval to implement those practices. technical ITMPs applied to wholesale services must comply with the ITMP framework and must not have a significant and disproportionate impact on secondary ISP traffic.
Users in our Canadian Broadband forums
are still dissecting the ruling, but seem torn over whether today's ruling was serious progress or a dog and pony show. "Basically this is as good as we could have wished for for the moment," says TekSavvy CEO Rocky Gaudrault, who's ISP has been at the center of the debate. "This is thus far a win," Gaudrault says in a forum post
. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a Canadian consumer watchdog group, appears to disagree
"It approves all of the throttling practices that ISPs currently engage in. It requires consumers to prove something funny is going on and consumers don't have the means to figure out what ISPs are doing and they don't have the resources to bring that to the commission's attention," said PIAC counsel John Lawford. "There's a lot of fine-grained double-speak here. There is no requirement for any of it."
In other words, Lawford believes this is little more than a regulatory puppet show. Given the CRTC is stocked with former Bell and Rogers executives and has traditionally ruled in favor of Canada's largest carriers, the idea that they're putting on a bit of a stage play here probably isn't too far fetched. NDP digital issues spokesman Charlie Angus seems to agree, arguing that the CRTC "has left the wolves in charge of the henhouse."
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Re: We're screwed
said by adisor19: I wonder how many ex-bell exec's and board of directors are now on the CRTC.
Canadian consumers continue to get the shaft when it comes to Internet access in Canada. This "decision" by the CRTC only goes to confirm it further.
The more you talk, the less you listen.
Yarmouth Port, MA
This is a win for Canadian consumers! To begin, I would disagree with Karl's article, slightly
said by Karl Bode 's article :While the new rules don't prohibit Canadian ISPs from imposing the network management of their choice,The new rules require that any discrimination (think DPI-based throttling or degrading) complained about be justified: said by »www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2009/2009-657.htm at 43 :So that means that ISPs can't just do whatever they want. What they do has to fit a decent bill of qualifications or they're going to get reversed.
In the case of an ITMP that results in any degree of discrimination or preference:
* demonstrate that the ITMP is designed to address the need and achieve the purpose and effect in question, and nothing else;
* establish that the ITMP results in discrimination or preference as little as reasonably possible;
* demonstrate that any harm to a secondary ISP, end-user, or any other person is as little as reasonably possible; and
* explain why, in the case of a technical ITMP, network investment or economic approaches alone would not reasonably address the need and effectively achieve the same purpose as the ITMP.
These qualifications are very similar to the standard that Kevin Martin read to Comcast when the FCC acted against it.
said by Kevin Martin in »hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/a···83A2.pdf :Finally, I'd like to point out that several ISP's in Canada have Comcast-like problems -- they discriminate against legal peer-to-peer file-sharing whether or not congestion is present, whilst letting other heavy traffic pass unslowed.
If so, I believe that we should evaluate the practices with heightened scrutiny, with the network operator bearing the burden of demonstrating that the particular practice furthered an important interest, and that it was narrowly tailored to serve that interest.
Such an approach would not mean that any action taken against a particular application would automatically be a violation. Rather, it would trigger a more searching review of both the particular concern and whether that network management solution was tailored to resolve the particular harm identified to the network in as narrow a manner as possible.
In a manner similar to the way in which restrictions on speech are analyzed, network management solutions would need to further a compelling or at least an important/legitimate interest and would need to be tailored to fit the exact interest. Such practices should not be overly broad in their application so that they become over or under inclusive. For example, if the concern is about stopping certain illegal content, a network provider should not block a particular application to all users if that application transmits both legal and illegal content.
Such an analysis would recognize the importance of legitimate network management techniques while giving the Commission the framework to analyze carriers actions on a case-by-case basis. As we move into an era in which network operators are taking particularized actions against individual applications and content, the Commission should evaluate such practices under sufficient scrutiny to ensure that whatever actions the operators are taking are actually furthering a legitimate purpose and are narrowly tailored to serving that legitimate purpose.
This is a consumer win. Consumers have to now bring forward their legitimate complaints, but the policy is now firmly in their direction.
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- District of Columbia -- KJ7RL
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Re: This is a win for Canadian consumers!
said by sbrook:Good summary. This can't be said to be a "win for consumers" until -- and if -- we see meaningful enforcement from the CRTC. And the track record on that isn't too good. One gets the impression that the ISP's can now do whatever they like, as long as they disclose what they're doing. To add to the problem, both Bell and Rogers have developed cultures that reflect all the integrity of a nocturnal rodent, along with a complete disregard for the customer. These are companies about which you can safely say, if they can find a way to screw the customer, they will do it -- and if they can do it by engaging in like-minded monopolistic practices, so much the better (for them!).
And if the incumbents follow it. Both parties have the habit of ignoring things. For example, Bell ignored the CRTC request for a tariff for higher speed wholesale service and brought in UBB in their response. The CRTC ignored that Bell ignored their request and approved UBB.
It's not a good track record.
Considering that the whole net neutrality problems (UBB and throttling) are based on the unproven concept that there is sufficient network congestion that Bell needed to throttle, and then that wasn't enough, that they needed UBB, and the CRTC bought their story, it's all based on a stack of lies. If Bell had put the money into infrastructure that they've spent stacking up this house of cards and lawyers to defend it, this discussion wouldn't be needed!
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity" -- a corollary of Murphy's Law
"A dog is like a child who never grows old ... always there to love and be loved" -- Aaron Katcher
smoke and mirrors "require approval of commission"
BCE " were going to do this"
repeat and say as often as desired
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It's a start For those of us who are writing letters and keeping up with this it's a nice reprieve, and the best we could have hoped for under the circumstances.
Everybody take the weekend off, have a drink and don't give up the fight, is what we can take home from this.
The CRTC basically said: Not Yet, but it's coming so get ready.
So while we delay UBB as much as possible, time to get building, get lobbying and start working on sustainable business plans.
They vilify us, the scoundrels do, when there is only this difference, they rob the poor under the cover of law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage.
Net Neutrality is a communist, marxist conspiracy! At least Canadians don't have right wing nut jobs like we do. Glenn Beck is now claiming that Net Neutrality is a marxist/communist plot to take over the internet!