CRTC Orders Bell to Prove Throttling Necessary, Hold Public Inquiry
In a move that could change the rules for internet providers and the way big corporations like Bell and Rogers' handle their data.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission announced yesterday it has launched two major reviews of internet technologies, including holding a public inquiry and ordering Bell Canada to provide 'tangible evidence' that its shaping of broadband networks is justified.
Canada's broadcast watchdog will hold public hearings next year into the thorny question of extending its purview to the Internet, a medium it deemed to be a regulatory-free zone nearly a decade ago.
The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission released a 75-page report yesterday that summarizes research and stakeholder opinion on a wide range of issues that have emerged as increasing amounts of broadcast media, such as radio programs, have migrated on to the Web in recent years. That includes questions about whether Canadian content should be promoted on the Internet, or if Internet service providers should be permitted to slow certain types of bandwidth-intensive traffic in a bid to keep their networks flowing smoothly.
While CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein said in a statement that the intention "is not to regulate new media," he nevertheless noted that the regulator may "propose measures that would support the continued achievement of the Broadcasting Act's objectives."
Critics questioned the CRTC's motives for reopening the new media file after nearly a decade of taking a hands-off approach.
Other ISPs in the U.S. and Europe have faced a user backlash from "net neutrality" proponents, who say that traffic shaping violates the unwritten rule that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.
The CRTC has asked Bell to provide "full rationale and evidence" to support its claim that 95 per cent of its users were negatively impacted by peer-to-peer traffic and to describe where congestion is occurring, what other approaches the company considered as alternatives to shaping and to describe in detail its Internet traffic management practices.