A Tale of Two Net Neutralities

by Matt Klassen on October 3, 2011

It is the best of times and the worst of times in the ongoing tale of two Net Neutralities, as north of the border consumer advocates are supporting the CRTC’s new “name-and-shame” policy while south its American counterpart the FCC is once again facing stiff resistance, as Verizon, in a move that was expected, re-filed its appeal aimed at stopping Net Neutrality in its tracks.

In fact, the journey Net Neutrality has taken in both countries could not be in more stark contrast, as Canada is leaps and bounds ahead of its neighbours to the south in establishing a framework for appropriate Internet management and regulating those rules closely.

But with Verizon’s legal action just one more hurdle standing in the way of the FCC’s Net Neutrality standards, will Americans ever get access to a truly open and equal Internet?

In the North, the CRTC has been hard at work championing the cause of the beleaguered consumer, a welcome change for a bureaucratic entity better known for its ineptitude, mismanagement, and inaction. Consumer advocates are praising the CRTC’s new “name-and-shame” policy as a step in the right direction towards holding companies accountable for the management of their broadband networks.

The CRTC has promised that not only will it continue to closely regulate its Net Neutrality standards, but it will do so publicly, calling companies to account in a quarterly newsletter available to all. It is this public shaming, the CRTC hopes, that will both further deter companies from purposely violating its open Internet standards and encourage companies to be vigilant against accidental violations.

South of the border, however, things could not be more different, as only a few weeks after the FCC officially listed its Net Neutrality standards in the Federal Register, the regulatory body is once again facing legal action. Earlier this year Verizon was one of several companies who filed an appeal against the Net Neutrality standards, having its lawsuit overturned due to the fact that the FCC’s regulations had yet to be made official. Now that it has, the door has opened for the lawsuits to resume.

The lawsuit, like every other legal challenge Net Neutrality has faced in America, calls into question the FCC’s legal authority, arguing that the Commission has overstepped its bounds and has no legal backing to create or enforce such rules.

“Verizon is fully committed to an open Internet,” Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel, explains.“We are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it looks like the FCC is facing challenges from its supporters as well, as the media reform advocacy group Free Press has filed a lawsuit against the FCC challenging the arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet—the latter of which is exempt under any sort of Net Neutrality standards.

That said, I do have a feeling that Net Neutrality will never become a reality in American unless prerequisite steps are taken, the foremost being the clear delineation of the FCC’s role and authority. Until that happens, the powerless regulatory board will continue to look enviously at its northern counterpart, watching as the CRTC steadfastly protects online gamers the country over from nasty Net Neutrality violations.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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