For a year now, several of Canada’s ISPs, including Bell, Rogers, Cogeco, Shaw, and a few others, have been throttling BitTorrent transfers, frustrating subscribers and internet wholesalers like TekSavvy. Two weeks ago, we noted that the CRTC was investigating the throttling practices of Canada’s ISPs, and while the formal hearings won’t begin until July 6, 2009, the commission’s deadline for public submissions is only two days away. So far, if February is any indication, it looks like the net neutrality crowd is winning the media campaign. Last week, the major ISPs undermined their position when they released statistics to the CRTC that showed that the growth in total internet traffic volume declined in Canada between July 2005 and August 2007. These statistics raise an important question: if network traffic growth is slowing down, then why are network management policies necessary all of a sudden? More likely than not, certain ISPs are choosing to slow down access to the forms of media they either sell, or hope to sell. It’s not a coincidence that Telus, who has shown little interest in online media, doesn’t throttle its customers.
Then, in a fumble early this week, when asked about the possibility of using network management tools to enforce Canadian content rules, Ken Engelhart, a Rogers CEO, stated: “We’re a dumb pipe. We don’t know what you’re downloading…so how can we be responsible for the content?” Engelhart’s statement was, for lack of a better word, dumb, and as Michael Geist notes, completely contradictory. If Rogers has the technology to throttle distinctive packets of information, surely they must have some way to distinguish between types of content.
Finally, in another victory on Friday, SaveOurNet.ca, a Canadian internet watchdog, released a statement claiming that in ten days “nearly 3,500 Canadians have written the CRTC demanding that they put a stop to discriminatory Internet throttling by big ISPs.” Now, if only the Canadian government would show the same interest. If you still want to send a comment to the CRTC, you can do so by following this link and clicking on application number pt2008-19-2 (the fact that there isn’t a direct link to the form seems a tad convoluted, even for the CRTC) or you can use SaveOurNet.ca’s submission form.