CRTC Says Mobile Providers Cannot Give Their Own Content Unfair Advantage

by Istvan Fekete on January 30, 2015

A new ruling published yesterday by the Canadian telecom regulator, CRTC, sets a new limit on how companies owning both media and communication businesses can use television and sports content to bolster their wireless arm of the business.

The decision applies specifically to television applications provided by Bell and Videotron. These apps attracted controversy, because for a fee of typically $5 a month, these service providers allow customers to stream more video content (TV programming up to 10 hours) that does not count against the user’s monthly data cap. However, there is a catch: You cannot stream as much video content from Netflix or YouTube.

As a result, the CRTC concluded that Bell and Videotron were giving unlawful preference to their own mobile TV services by excluding data usage from standard monthly caps.

“At its core, this decision isn’t so much about Bell or Videotron. It’s about all of us and our ability to access content equally and fairly, in an open market that favours innovation and choice,” CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a speech delivered Thursday morning in London, Ont.

“It may be tempting for large, vertically integrated companies to offer certain perks to their customers, and innovation in its purest form is to be applauded,” Mr. Blais said, adding the CRTC wants to see broadcasters create “new and exciting ways to view content.”

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC), and the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of British Columbia (COSCO) today welcomed the CRTC’s decision that prohibits Bell and Videotron from showing unjust favouritism for their own mobile TV apps.

Open Media joined the above to hail the “landmark decision” that forces Bell and Videotron to stop the unlawful practices within the next 90 days. “This is a big win for wireless users across Canada. We’re very happy to see the CRTC taking steps to stop Big Telecom unfairly charging people more to access alternative content and services. Let’s be clear on one thing: the telecom companies were fighting for new tools to squeeze even more money out of mobile users in Canada – but today, they lost that power,” Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish of OpenMedia.ca said.

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

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