Canada’s Internet users have won a measure of victory over bandwidth hogs. In a ruling from the CRTC, Canada’s FCC, Bell Canada is permitted to continue managing network over-use:
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 proceeding was also notable for the frank admissions from other large ISPs like Rogersâ€”they admitted that they throttle traffic on a discriminatory basis, too. It also produced wild allegations from companies like Cisco that “even if more bandwidth were added to the network, P2P file-sharing applications are designed to use up that bandwidth.” Such assertions allow the ISPs to claim that they must be able to throttle specific protocols simply to stay afloatâ€”survival is at stake.
This is (to put it politely) highly debatable.
Actually it’s not debatable, not by sane people anyhow. Residential broadband is as cheap as it is only because ISPs can count on people sharing the wires in a civilized fashion. People who keep their broadband pipes constantly saturated take resources away from their neighbors. There are alternatives, of course. You can buy a T-1 line with a Service Level Agreement that you can saturate with all the traffic you want. In the US, count on paying $400/mo for 1.5 Mb/s upload and download. Want something cheaper? Learn to share.
Canada is widely regarded as a more left wing, business-hostile country than the US. How to account for the fact that the CRTC got this issue right while Bush’s FCC got it wrong in the Comcast case?
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