Canada Officially Strengthens Commitment to Net Neutrality

The Trump administration and its new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai objects to the Open Internet Order. Gutting net neutrality and rolling back some of the pro-consumer policies put in place in the FCC for the past few years. As well as halting investigation into the use of zero-rating by US wireless providers. Canada however, has taken the opposite approach and bolsters their regulations protecting the principle of net neutrality.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has recently ruled via Telecom Decision CRTC 2017-105. The document explains that wireless carrier Quebecor Inc and their subsidiaries is in violation fairness rules for not charging users for data used on music-streaming service they offered like they would for other services. The company’s Unlimited Music program launched on August 27, 2015 enables their mobile wireless customers access to certain music streaming services without incurring additional charges. As long as they are on a plan with a data cap of 2GB or greater.

In comparison, the FCC rescinded its determination that American wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless violated net neutrality rules by allowing their own video streaming services to not count against subscriber data caps.

CRTC Ruling Statement

With regards to the ruling’s impact on internet openness and innovation, the CRTC ruling had this to say:

Because Unlimited Music favours some music services over others and excludes many types of online music services. Most notably streaming Canadian radio stations. The Commission considers that it could have a negative impact on Internet openness and consumer choice. For example, while it may seem that certain Canadians are getting access to more data through this program, ISPs rather than Canadians are choosing what content is zero-rated.And this favouring of certain content over other content could have an impact on the amount and choice of content for Canadians.

In addition, by making certain content attractive to consumers for its lower price rather than its intrinsic interest and creating barriers to entry for excluded content providers, Unlimited Music makes it more difficult for content providers to launch their services and gain access to customers. Further, a program such as Unlimited Music tends to favour large, established content providers to the detriment of smaller providers and new entrants, including Canadian radio stations streaming over the Internet.

Ron Perillo

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