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CRTC uses faulty logic in “throttling” decision, activist says

A CRTC decision that allows Bell Canada to continue “throttling” Internet traffic suggests the commission “might be a bit too cozy with the big telecom companies,” a media activist says.

Steve Anderson, coordinator of, expressed disappointment at the CRTC’s decision, which allows Bell to continue shaping, or “throttling” Internet traffic.

But he was pleased that the CRTC has announced hearings into the issue starting next July.

“In that sense it’s kind of a victory that they’re actually going to deal with this issue and the public will be heard eventually,” Anderson told The Tyee.

The throttling issue arose this spring, when it was discovered that Bell was cutting the speed of the service it provided to members of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers. The association is a group of small independent ISPs who buy "wholesale" broadband from big ISPs and resell it to individual customers.

In March, the group discovered that some of its customers were experiencing extremely slow Internet service because of Bell Canada’s throttling.

Bell argued that some practices used to handle large amounts of data, such as BitTorrent, slow down its networks. Throttling is necessary to keep traffic moving for everyone, Bell argued.

In today’s decision, CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein ruled that Bell’s throttling was not discriminatory because the company slowed the traffic of its own retail customers as well as the wholesale ISPs.

Anderson, however, was unimpressed with the reasoning:

“The other ISPs would be better able to serve Canadians and better able to compete if they could offer an open Internet,” he said. “So it’s a really faulty logic that they’re relying on for that.”

Tom Barrett is a contributing editor at The Tyee.

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