Complaints Over Throttling Are Up

by Jordan Richardson on January 17, 2012

According to reports from the CRTC, complaints over throttling are up in Canada.

The telecom regulator says that there have been 52 complaints filed since last fall compared to 51 complaints filed in the period between October 2009 and September of last year. The newest numbers outnumber complaints filed by users over the two year period following the CRTC’s release of traffic management rules. Last fall, the regulator released a “reminder” to ISPs about the rules released in 2009.

Canada’s big telecommunications companies have been attempting to figure out their throttling approaches for some time now.

Bell will stop the practice by March of 2012 thanks in large part to the implementation of new billing rules. Essentially the company no longer “needs to throttle” because the new rules make it easier for Bell to shape traffic through economic means.

Other major carriers have not been so accommodating. Rogers got in a bit of trouble last year for violating the CRTC’s federal rules on Internet traffic shaping, although the company denied doing it on purpose and blamed a software glitch. At the time, it was revealed that nearly half of all complaints over net neutrality and network throttling involved Rogers. The CRTC is still investigating the most recent complaint over Rogers’ traffic shaping activities.

Rogers says that it is acting in compliance with the CRTC’s rules, however, and has not announced any path forward with respect to ending or amending the practice of network throttling. “It’s something that our network people look at all the time, and we are constantly evaluating, but we have nothing to announce today,” Ken Engelhart, senior vice-president of regulatory affairs, said.

Telus and Shaw, the two big guns from Western Canada, do not throttle Internet traffic. And Cogeco Inc. recently stopped the practice.

The issue of Internet throttling is a contentious one, here and in the United States, although some companies claim that it is a necessity in these days of massive data usage. Net neutrality activists say that throttling goes against the very concept of a “free and open” Internet, while others suggest that the practice disingenuously gives preferential treatment to certain types of traffic.

With more Canadian carriers backing away from the practice, it’s hard to figure that the number of complaints will continue to go up. But if Rogers remains the mainstream holdout, there’s no telling how many more complaints will come down the road.

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