CRTC begins dialogue on traffic shaping

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Yesterday, the CRTC rendered its decision on ISP’s traffic shaping practices. It announced that it was denying the Canadian Internet Service Providers’ (CAIP) request that Bell Canada, which provides wholesale ADSL services to smaller ISPs across the country, cease the traffic-shaping practices it has adopted for its wholesale customers.

“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.

Moreover, the CRTC recognized that traffic-shaping “raises a number of questions” for both end-users and ISPs and has decided to hold a public hearing next July to consider them.

We’ll be following the public hearing closely, and here’s why: Internet traffic management requires the use of can use deep packet inspection (DPI) technology – technology that can “read” packets of information flowing through the Internet. In this case, packets are being read to identify specific Internet activities – like the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications. That same technology can be used to read a whole lot more about what you do on the Internet: what you’re watching, downloading or reading, who you’re talking to, what you’re saying, as well as where you are and who you are.

As we’ve mentioned on this blog, our office is already looking into a complaint about DPI and we expect to have a decision soon.

The time has come for net neutrality, both as an economic and a social policy issue, to be examined by the Canadian government. And we look forward to being a part of that discussion.

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