CRTC introduces 'throttling' code of conduct

22 Oct 2009

Canadian telecoms regulator the CRTC has issued a ruling allowing ISPs to continue traffic management practices to control internet data flow over their networks, but it said methods used must be transparent to users and take place only when necessary, The Globe And Mail reports. The watchdog said that retail customers must be told 30 days in advance what means are being used to control internet traffic, and how it will affect their service, whilst facilities-based operators including Bell and Telus must not discriminate when providing wholesale network services to smaller ISPs, which must get 60 days notice. Traffic management practices, also referred to as ‘traffic shaping’ and ‘throttling’ – due to their slowing down of certain applications or users, for instance at peak times – has been attacked for breaching ‘net neutrality’, the idea that all web traffic should be treated equally. The CRTC said preference should be given to economic, rather than technical, measures, such as charging more for higher bandwidth, or giving discounts in off-peak hours, as these are more transparent and allow customers to make informed decisions, it reasoned, adding that traffic shaping to slow downloads should be a last resort.