CRTC Develops New Framework To Strengthen Net Neutrality

Publish: 23.04.2017

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has published a new framework for assessing the differential pricing practices of Internet service providers in order to ensure that net neutrality is enforced and that there is no discrimination or manipulation by Internet Service Providers, to allow the free exchange of services and data and to empower the citizens as consumers and guarantee them a freedom of choice.

Fair Internet Service

In the past few years Canadian Government through the work of CRTC has been working on establishing a fair universal internet service and net neutrality. They have realized the major role that Internet plays in people’s lives and how it has changed the world dramatically in a very short period of time. However, in order to make the best use of the internet era, the activity on the Internet should be closely monitored and controlled. Canadian Government gives a good example on this by introducing the new framework for assessing the differential pricing practices of Internet Service Providers. This new framework builds on the Telecom Regulatory Policy from 2016 which aims to ensure the stable, fast and accessible data flow to their citizens and Telecommunications Act, which guarantees fair conditions on the market.

The new framework comes as a solution to the issue which occurs with certain Internet service providers who give an unfair advantage to certain data or content providers either through zero-rating or through sponsored content. Thus the same or similar content is offered at different prices which gives an unfair advantage to certain actors and also interferes with the freedom of choice of the customers.

Videotron as an Example

The latest example of such action occurred with Videotron’s Unlimited Music Service which favored certain music streaming services.

This violates the subsection 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act which states: “No Canadian carrier shall, in relation to the provision of a telecommunications service or the charging of a rate for it, unjustly discriminate or give an undue or unreasonable preference toward any person, including itself, or subject any person to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage.”

CRTC reacted immediately and gave Videotron a 90-day window to come into compliance with the new framework.

In order to ensure net neutrality and fair market, the new framework sets out a list of the following evaluation criteria: the degree to which the treatment of data is agnostic (i.e. data is treated equally regardless of its source or nature); whether the offering is exclusive to certain customers or certain content providers; the impact on Internet openness and innovation; and whether there is financial compensation involved.