Landmark decision will determine if the telecommunications conglomerate can interfere with the Internet access it sells to wholesale customers.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the independent agency responsible for regulating Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications systems, is scheduled to finally rule on the twice delayed case of Bell Canada, a major Canadian telecommunications company and ISP, who’s been accused of violating the country’s Telecommunications Act by throttling the connection speeds of BitTorrent users after already selling the Internet access wholesale to third parties.
These customers are represented by the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) whose main mission is to "foster the growth of a healthy and competitive Internet service industry in Canada." It was CAIP who lodged the complaint with the CRTC back on April 4th of this year.
"In addition to the foregoing direct losses, Bell’s manipulation of GAS traffic is making it difficult if not impossible for independent ISPs to properly manage the services that they provide to their end-user customers," it reads. "In addition, due to Bell’s restrictions on the flow of Internet traffic belonging to independent ISPs, the volume of traffic that independent ISPs are able to deliver to Internet backbone providers has been dramatically reduced. Consequently, they are contractually bound to pay for transit capacity that they are not actually able to use."
In other words, how can you sell somebody a product and then actively interfere with its character and performance?
Bell has claimed that BitTorrent throttling is necessary in order to address network congestion caused by a minority of users, but some have argued that it does so in order to level the playing field with the ISP it owns, Sympatico, who already throttles BitTorrent connections. Bell doesn’t want a competitor offering better service.
If the CRTC rules against Bell it would mean that CAIP members could sell an unthrottled Internet connection and and give them a huge competitive advantage over Sympatico "high-speed Internet" and other ISPs that throttle BitTorrent.
"We’re bracing for a worst-case scenario, as Bell has a lot to lose if this doesn’t go their way," said Rocky Gaudrault, chief executive of TekSavvy, a CAIP member. "I would suspect, win or lose, something should be done, going forward, to consider Bell’s conflict of interest in dealing as a carrier and a retail internet provider. There are some pretty major issues that need attention going forward, so regardless of the upcoming ruling, this might set things in motion to finally force change."