Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CRTC hearings on internet throttling and network neutrality

The CRTC is holding hearings on internet throttling. The union voice is running a handy submission form where you can post your messages. Normally I'd write a letter but I'm just about out of time.

Here's what I posted:

I submit that the CRTC should stop Internet Service Providers from discriminatory traffic-shaping practices.

Given the near monopoly enjoyed by the high speed internet service providers, they should not be imposing any traffic shaping rules on data flowing over their networks.

The lack of vigorous market competition amongst last mile internet service providers means that Bell has effective control over which applications can be used.

Bit torrent is not a content provider, it is a content delivery system. It allows a single entity to effectively host a huge amount of data without having to directly server all that content directly to each user.

This allows for the hosting of huge amount of data by a single individual to be done very cheaply without having to involve a third party "free" distributer like youtube, flicker or download hosting service.

Bit torrent is an example of a disruptive technology that can change the balance of power between publishers and content providers. It allows anyone to host content directly for no cost as extremely high speed. It is important that this technology not be throttled.

Additionally other technologies are waiting in the wings. Things like Voice over ip and radio / video streaming (such as internet radio and things like the BBC world service) are both high bandwidth application that could end up competing with services that Bell provides (cable-TV like services, video on demand, phone services). It would also be easy to fabricate reasons why these too should be throttled. This is to say nothing about any new service or capability not yet developed.

Many of the largest network providers have also branched out into providing other types of content and services on their networks. These services can be looked at as being proprietary versions of capabilities that are provided or could be provided by providers on the internet. Bell and Videotron can be seen as being in competition with services on the internet. As a result they should not be allowed to throttle or
packet shape any one particular service or protocol.

If consumers could get away from Bell's throttling by leaving Bell's sympatico ISP and joining another third party DSL ISP (like TekSavvy, for example) then it would not be a problem. The third party ISPs could decide their own strategy to deal with an over-loaded network. They would almost certainly compete with one another to find innovative way of solving their congestion issues.

Since no one has yet been successful in splitting the responsibility between the companies that run the wiring and the companies that use the wires to send and receive data over those wires, ISPs must remain neutral and should be allowed to squelch new protocols and services as they appear on the internet.

As Canada moves deeper into recession, we must create new opportunities for innovative new companies to create new products and services not protect incumbent network providers attempts to control which new services and products are provided to consumers and on what terms.

The CRTC can do its part by enacting and enforcing policies that help build an open, fast, and accessible Internet in Canada.

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