Canada's leading telecommunications and cable companies have formed the Canadian ISP Alliance as they gear up for the forthcoming fight at the CRTC over a potential new levy on ISP services. The ISP Alliance, which includes all the major Canadian players (Quebecor, Rogers, Cogeco, Telus, MTS Allstream, Shaw, Sasktel, Eastlink, Bell, and Bell Aliant) argues that the CRTC plans to revisit the 1999 new media exemption order is unnecessary. While the ISP Alliance is not alone in making that argument (the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; and ITAC reach the same conclusion), their submission is noteworthy because it includes a legal opinion that argues that the CRTC does not have the legal authority under the Broadcasting Act to impose a new levy on ISPs (the levy is being promoted by several groups including ACTRA).
The legal opinion from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin first tries to make an analogy to satellite services, which similarly transmit video and audio content, yet have not been regulated as broadcast undertakings. The opinion also notes the functional separation between telecommunications and broadcast regulation, arguing that it was the clear intent of Parliament to regulate broadcasters in the Broadcasting Act and telecom companies in the Telecommunications Act.
While the legal opinion makes no reference to net neutrality, the issue could ultimately play a pivotal role.
bell, canadian isp alliance, crtc, Net Neutrality, net neutrality, new media, rogers, shaw, telus, CRTC, Broadcasting and Telecom
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) looks at how the business community has begun to take sides in the net neutrality debate. Google led the charge with a submission to the CRTC in which it left little doubt about how it views the net neutrality issue. The Internet search giant argued that "providers of broadband internet access services, including Bell, should be prohibited from throttling lawful applications. The Internet is simply too important to allow them to act as such a gatekeeper; the Internet's myriad benefits can only be fully realized when Canadian carriers allow end users to choose the applications and content they prefer."
While Google's entry into the debate captured headlines, they were by no means alone. The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, Canada's largest high-tech association, warned that "the measures that Bell Canada is applying to manage the traffic of its Sympatico customers as well as its wholesale ISP customers is interfering with the ability of end-users to telecommute and/or work from their home offices and hindering our members from running their business and providing quick customer services." Bell's actions also attracted the attention of Skype, the popular Internet telephony service. It cautioned that "for the Internet to remain innovative, and continue to deliver productivity gains for consumers and businesses, the CRTC must act - in this proceeding - to protect the interests of consumers."
bell, caip, cata, crtc, google, itac, Net Neutrality, net neutrality, Internet service providers, CRTC, Broadcasting and Telecom
The FCC reportedly stands ready to punish Comcast for its "network management" practices, a decision that may bolster the prospect of CRTC action against Canadian providers who engage in similar traffic shaping.
comcast, crtc, fcc, Net Neutrality, net neutrality, Internet service providers, CRTC