Canadian Net Neutrality

cd.gif In Canada, an ISP has even gotten up to blocking striking employees’ website:
During the Telus strike in 2005, the corporation blocked access to a website run by striking Telus employees called “Voices for Change” (and at least 766 other websites). Those familiar with network-control issues in Canada also accuse Rogers and Bell of limiting peer-to-peer (P2P) applications, which people use to share audio, video and other digital data with one another. So, here we have ISPs blocking or at least limiting the use of what is likely the most innovative, creative and participatory use of the Internet. In response to customer concerns, Bell recently admitted that they “are now using Internet Traffic Management to restrict accounts that are using a large portion of bandwidth during peak hours. Some of the applications that are included are the following: BitTorrent, Gnutella, LimeWire, Kazaa….”

The Fight for the Open Internet, Steve Anderson, Canadian Dimension magazine, January/February 2008 issue

The rest sounds very familiar:
In 1995 Bell and Telus withdrew their basic network service upon which the independent ISPs relied, and introduced another service that was 300 per cent more expensive. Prior to consolidation, the ISP sector was very competitive, with many small, independent providers. Large cities like Vancouver supported fifteen to twenty ISPs; midsized cities might support a dozen. This was a period of rapid growth, about ten per cent a month.

One of the main reasons we now often have only two, huge telecom conglomerates to chose from for Internet service is because the CRTC failed to block these conglomerates’ abuse of their monopoly position in the 1990s. Will they do it again with on-line content and services?

Net-neutrality regulation is not a panacea for concentrated telecom power. We need to create real competition in ISP markets, which means creating a plurality of ISP ownership types, including municipal and community/non-profit ISPs. We need to encourage Industry Canada and politicians to freely allot spectrum for community and municipal ISPs. After all, these are our public airwaves, and we have the right to allot them to public-benefit organizations and institutions, rather then the big ISPs, which have betrayed our trust.

That about sums it up.