The CRTC today announced its oft-delayed ruling in the CAIP application to put an end to Bell’s internet throttling practices. From the horse’s mouth:
“The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it has denied the Canadian Association of Internet Providers’ (CAIP) request that Bell Canada cease the traffic-shaping practices it has adopted for its wholesale Gateway Access Service…”
“Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory,” said CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein in a release. “Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers…” [CRTC Ruling]
Though Bell may be applying the same practices on it’s own retail customers, I find the lack of discrimination claim somewhat dubious. The crux of the matter is the much maligned bit torrent (P2P) traffic, with Bell and other big providers in Canada and abroad claiming that it’s crushing their traffic, and needs to be slowed down. However, all reports, including Bell’s own data along with data provided by 3rd parties all reveal that bit torrent s not the bandwidth hog that the telco claims.
Email, web streaming and online gaming each take up more bandwidth than bit torrent, and both web streaming and online gaming are major growth areas in online traffic. Similarly, the VERY MINOR congestion Bell has claimed would be easily remedied by its announced upgrade budget.
“Whether it’s throttling the internet, imposing unfair text message fees or price gouging on cell-phone rates, it seems Canadian telcos can count on the backing of this government… [The] CRTC is applying outdated rules that this government has refused to change, leaving the average consumer and emerging business models at the mercy of the telecom giants.” – NDP MP Charlie Angus
One could reasonably suspect that Bell is opting to penalize P2P to make space for its own online video download/streaming service. One also has to wonder what data the CRTC was looking at when making its ruling.
What makes this ruling even more frustrating for 3rd party wholesalers and THEIR customers is Bell’s continued blocking of alternate infrastructure, to maintain its control of the Canadian DSL space. TekSavvy and other wholesalers have repeatedly tried to build out their own infrastructure to get out from under Bell’s control, but is repeatedly blocked.
Some in the press are saying that there’s a silver lining in this cloud hanging over net neutrality in Canada. The CRTC will be looking at the larger picture in the summer of 2009. I see little reason to be so optimistic on the issue as Canada continues to slip deeper into the pits of internet access, when it comes to both pricing and speed.