updated 03:55 pm EDT, Wed October 21, 2009
CRTC issues net neutrality rules
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today set groundwork for net neutrality in the country through a ruling that discourages Internet providers from throttling traffic. The guidelines will encourage monetary practices first, such as bandwidth caps or metered Internet access, and will accept slowing down some or all service only when necessary. All providers will also have to clearly publicize any throttling practices and give customers at least 30 days' notice, or 60 days' notice for wholesalers dependent on another Internet provider's network.
In its decision, the CRTC also says it will implement "special rules" to discourage providers from unfairly using throttling techniques to limit rivals. This and the 60-day notice are believed direct responses to outcries from smaller service providers who have complained that Bell Canada not only throttled their own service but gave them no notice in advance.
The decision mirrors calls from the FCC in the US to openly provide details but has already been criticized for effectively justifying some existing practices, such as Rogers' slowdowns of unencrypted BitTorrent traffic, without pushing for better justification. It also carries the risk of allowing larger providers to charge smaller ones not just for the access they already sell but also for the amount of bandwidth the smaller firm's customers might use. To date, neither Bell nor others are known to have used this double-charging practice. [via Globe and Mail]