Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wake up Canada, We're losing the battle for Net Neutrality

Bookmark and Share
Undoubtedly anybody who follows the American primary races, and the race for the presidency will hear the term net neutrality as a top issue. The pure and simple definition of Net Neutrality is that anybody can use the Internet how ever they want without interference from their ISP. For example anybody subscribing to the Internet service from their telephone company could use a VOIP service like Skype or Vonage without their ISP (the telco) inhibiting or prohibiting third party VOIP services.

In the past couple of years, a few bills have been launched in Congress to help ensure that Americans can use the Internet how they please even if conflicts with the Internet providers' corporate interests. Cable megaopoly Comcast faced harsh crititism for their practise of choking peer to peer network traffic. Comcast claimed that peer to peer network traffic was degrading performance for all subscribers. Many of the video files transferred across peer to peer networks are very large and legally questionable because video files are often movies and television series transferred illegally. It was seen as more legal butt covering than network performance conservation. Citing negative public reaction to the traffic shaping, Comcast recanted and lifted the restrictions of peer to peer file sharing.

In the Great White North, the largest Internet Providers, Rogers Communications and Bell Canada engage in similar practises that threaten the freedom to use the Internet freely. Both Rogers and Bell restrict Bit Torrent traffic. Despite public outrage they continue to do it. How long will it be until third party VOIP traffic and IP TV services like joost will face similar restriction?

A solution to the threat to Net Neutrality in Canada is going to have to come from parliment. The free market is not going to bring a solution. WiMAX the closest challenger to Cable-DSL duopoly will not help ensure Net Neutrality for Canadians. The only company licensed by the CRTC and offering broadband using WiMAX a company called Inukshuk Wireless is actually a partnership between Bell and Rogers.

It may seem that writing your MP may not to be an effective way to deal with this issue but right now it's the only thing ordinary citizens can do even if the telephone and cable companies have parlmentarians in their back pockets.

No comments:

Blog Archive