Ottawa – A coalition of consumer groups and telecommunications service providers has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to rescind a November 2008 decision regarding the ‘shaping’ of Internet traffic and to order Bell Canada to immediately cease and desist from further interfering with the traffic of Internet users.
In April 2008 the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) filed a complaint with the CRTC over Bell Canada’s traffic management practices of certain last-mile wholesale services used by independent Internet Service Providers to reach their customers. Seven months later, the CRTC denied the CAIP complaint largely on the basis that Bell was throttling the traffic of its wholesale customers in the same manner as it managed the traffic of its retail customers.
Today’s application asks the CRTC to reconsider their decision based on factual and legal errors in the decision and because the decision undermines the public interest in a vibrantly competitive market for Internet access services.
“The CAIP decision was rendered on the very day that the CRTC initiated a Public Notice proceeding to further study the traffic management practices of ISPs. The dominant ISPs have already argued that the outcome of the current proceeding is a foregone conclusion, based on the CAIP decision,” states Tom Copeland, Chair of CAIP. “It is difficult to imagine that the decision to be released later this year in the Public Notice proceeding can be any different if the CRTC uses the same flawed methodology.”
Public participation in the proceeding that led to the CAIP decision was unprecedented for a telecommunications proceeding. “Canadians spoke loudly, but their concerns were ignored by the Commission for purposes of the decision,” says Copeland. The current Public Notice proceeding, which includes an oral public hearing to be held later this summer, has produced evidence directly relevant to the issues raised in the CAIP proceeding. Copeland continues, “Given the factual, legal and policy errors made by the CRTC and the evidence before them now, the appropriate action to take would be to rescind, review and vary the decision such that Bell is ordered to cease and desist in its throttling of the wholesale service it sells to competitors.”
“Bell is the only large ILEC in Canada that throttles P2P traffic and the only ISP that we know of that systematically throttles both upstream and downstream P2P traffic, for all users, regardless of volume and regardless of whether congestion is actually occurring. Bell has been interfering with our customers’ online experience in this manner for more than a year now, with no end in sight. Last year, the CRTC could have sent a strong message that competition in retail Internet access markets is paramount or it could have decided to submit the issues raised by CAIP for further study. Instead, the CRTC gave Bell and other incumbent carriers carte blanche to interfere with the services we provide to our customers. As long as the decision stands, the perception will be that it has essentially pre-judged the outcome of the current Public Notice proceeding,” concludes Copeland.