Rogers Attracting CRTC Attention Over Bandwidth Throttling

Stuart Freen is a J.D. candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.

In a strongly-worded letter leaked on Michael Geist’s website, the CRTC has accused Rogers with failing to live up to its net neutrality obligations. The letter charges that Rogers’ internet traffic management policies “were not reflected on Rogers’ website and thus did not meet the requirements for prominent and clear disclosure.” It stems from a Fall 2010 move by Rogers to aggressively limit (aka “throttle”) download speeds for peer-to-peer traffic over the internet. After a slew of customer complaints to the CRTC, the Commission told Rogers that they needed to be more forthright on their bandwidth-shaping practices. This latest development reflects that Rogers has allegedly not sufficiently updated its public policies to meet the regulatory requirements. The Commission has given Rogers until February 14 to formulate a reply.

Bandwidth throttling practices play a big part in the ongoing debate over net-neutrality, covered previously on IPilogue here, here and here. Canadian ISPs have successfully argued in the past that throttling peer-to-peer applications is necessary to relieve network congestion since a small amount of users are using a disproportionately large amount of bandwidth. Critics have argued that Rogers, Bell et al. are merely trying to prevent competition with arms of their business that deliver services such as video-on-demand. While peer-to-peer traffic does have legitimate uses such as distributing open source software, it is most commonly associated with media and software piracy.