Canada regulator ruling a blow to net neutrality advocates

Posted on November 22, 2008  /  4 Comments

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it has denied the Canadian Association of Internet Providers’ (CAIP) application to end Bell Canada’s practice of “throttling” its wholesale internet services.

In a decision that defies all logic, the federal agency told the coalition of 55 ISP’s that Bell Canada’s decision to discriminate against particular applications and types of content was “not discriminatory” because Bell throttled both wholesale and retail customers in an equal fashion.

“Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory. Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC.

CAIP and advocates of Net Neutrality argued that, if Bell and other internet service providers can’t keep up with subscriber demands and must throttle traffic, then they should implement neutral measures for dealing with internet congestion rather than arbitrarily picking on one type of application and content.

Read the full story in Digital Home Canada here.


  1. I see the logic of the decision. They were looking to see if undue discrimination, in terms of competition law, was being exercised. The assumption that many people have that all discrimination is bad is simply wrong; we would not be able to get through life that way.

    All that competition law and public utility regulation says is that one may not unjustly or unduly discriminate, with the prohibited forms being defined in the statute, subsidiary legislation or case law. It is always acceptable to treat the members of one class differently from those of another, as long as those within the class are treated the same.

    The difficulty arises in defining the class. Sometimes the regulator/judge will not accept the class that has been defined and thus find the discrimination unjust or undue.

    Here they have been looking to see if Bell Canada treated its own traffic differently from those of the ISPs. Bell was treating different classes of traffic differently, but not different suppliers. Therefore, no anti-competitive effects. So the CRTC found no unjust discrimination.

    This goes to one of the founding myths of this debate. The Internet has always discriminated among classes of traffic, but most of the proponents of net neutrality want to believe that in the Golden Age there was no discrimination, and do so irrespective of contrary facts.

  2. The opinion of one of the co-chairs of the Canadian Telecom Policy Review: