updated 11:40 am EST, Thu November 20, 2008
Bell Wins CRTC Ruling
Bell Canada today won a largely clear victory in an anti-throttling lawsuit filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The government body has issued a ruling dismissing claims by Internet providers using part of Bell's network that accused the carrier of unfairly throttling the connection speeds of their services while also constricting its own. These rivals, represented by the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP), had accused Bell of trying to hinder competition and violating the basic concepts of net neutrality by discouraging large transfers.
The CRTC's dismissal is based on the observation that peer-to-peer usage does appear to have a detrimental impact on Bell's network and so requires at least some level of control to keep service running properly for all users. It also rejects neutrality concerns by claim that Bell's throttling system, which uses deep packet inspection to investigate traffic, is adjusting speed and doesn't restrict the content itself.
Bell hails its successful defense as proof that those running online networks are "in the best position" to judge how their networks are managed.
The ruling has already been considered a setback by advocates of an open Internet, who say that such methods often do unfairly discriminate against BitTorrent and other particular content types. They also frequently point out that such network management lets carriers push customers involuntarily towards existing TV services rather than using online video services like the iTunes Store.
The CRTC's approach contrasts sharply with that the FCC in the US, which ordered Comcast to use a less punishing Internet management system and faces a countersuit from the cable provider, which hopes to regain absolute control over how it restricts certain users' connections. The upcoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama has made endorsing net neutrality one of its central technology platforms.
However, the CRTC is also expected to address net neutrality more directly in a hearing in July 2009 that will more clearly establish the Canadian government's approach to data and is hoped to prevent Internet services from using anti-competitive or otherwise unfair tactics to limit data use on their networks. [via Michael Geist]