CRTC says Canadian ISPs have the right to shape Internet traffic

Canada’s telecommunications regulator yesterday issued a ruling upholding the right of major telcos and cable providers to manage the traffic of its Internet customers.

The decision resulted from hearings held last July.

At the time, small Internet service providers such as TekSavvy Solutions, and the SaveOurNet.ca coalition, had protested traffic management techniques in favour of what they call net neutrality.

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On Wednesday the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it realizes Internet providers may need  “measures to manage the traffic on their networks at certain times.”

The Commission stated ISPs must tell their retail customers 30 days ahead of time what traffic shaping measures they will use. They must give their wholesale customers 60 days notice.

That’s probably not enough notice, especially for wholesale customers who may want to buy service from a different provider, said Iain Grant, managing director at the Montreal-based SeaBoard Group.

“They might find 120 days would be more reasonable,” he said, but added on the whole, the ruling is fair.

“Traffic management makes sense on our roads, and it makes sense on our electronic roads,” he said. “There are rules and obligation and for anything
to survive in society one has to have some rules. But wouldn’t it be nice if we knew what the rules are? The CRTC has said we should actually know what
they are.”

In a press release the Commission stated it “encourages ISPs to make investments to increase network capacity as much as possible.”

The CRTC also urges ISPs to increase the capacity of their networks.

Although the decision, in large part, defends the right of telcos to shape their traffic, the Commission described its as a “new framework” because
ISPs will need to describe how their traffic shaping measures will affect customer service, and the practices must be clearly identified on monthly
bills.

“Technical means to manage traffic, such as traffic shaping, should only be employed as a last resort,” the CRTC stated in a release.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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