CRTC: ‘Bell Canada Can Throttle BitTorrent – For Now’

Rules that it can continue to throttle P2P and file-sharing programs, but in the future it must notify wholesale customers 30 days in advance before doing so.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it has denied the Canadian Association of Internet Providers’ (CAIP) request that Bell Canada cease the traffic shaping practices it has adopted for its wholesale Gateway Access Service. However, in the future, Bell Canada will be required to notify its wholesale customers at least 30 days in advance of making any changes that impact its service.

“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’s application asked us to only consider the specific issue of wholesale traffic shaping within a specific context. The broader issue of Internet traffic management raises a number of questions that affect both end-users and service providers,” added Mr. von Finckenstein. “We have decided to hold a separate proceeding to consider both wholesale and retail issues. Its main purpose will be to address the extent to which Internet service providers can manage the traffic on their networks in accordance with the Telecommunications Act.” 

In the case of the CAIP application, the Commission’s assessment of traffic shaping was limited to Bell Canada’s practice of slowing down BitTorrent transfer rates at certain times of the day.

Meanwhile, the CRTC has launched a proceeding to begin July 6th, 2009 that will examine the current and potential traffic management practices of Canadian ISPs as a whole, and to what extant they should be allowed to manage network congestion.

The CRTC has invited comments on a number of specific questions. Some of these questions are related to:

  • changes in bandwidth consumption that may lead to network congestion
  • Internet traffic management practices based on technical solutions or business models that are currently available or may be developed in the future, and
  • the impact of such practices on end-users.

In addition, the Commission will try to establish the criteria to be used in the event that specific traffic management practices need to be authorized.

Interested parties may submit their comments by February 16, 2009. They may do so by filling out the online form, by writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, or by fax, at 819-994-0218. The Commission also plans to hold an online consultation to allow the public the opportunity to discuss the issues and questions related to the Internet traffic management practices of ISPs.

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