Monday, September 13, 2010

BCE buying CTV: The Demise of Net Neutrality in Canada

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For the past few years legislators in the United States have been debating how to ensure net neutrality for all Internet users south of the border.  Net Neutrality ensures free access to all content or services available online regardless of the subscriber's Internet service provider.  Meanwhile in Canada, Net Neutrality isn't being debated, it's not even being mentioned.  Instead mergers between Shaw and Canwest Global and now CTV and Bell Canada are going to be rubber stamped.

Canadian Internet users will be steered towards content owned by their Internet service providers.  Access to other sources of online video could potentially be inhibited.  The big ISP's have been targeting bit torrent and other peer to peer networks for throttling because they can and do argue that most content peer to peer networks is pirated and uses a high amount of bandwidth that degrades performance of other users' broadband service.  When Netflix launches in Canada within the next couple of months how will the big ISP's respond to that?

One of the effects that the merging the cable/telco/ISP's with broadcast networks is the apathetic attitude towards the transition to digital television that is now just eleven months away.  Shaw built their business providing better picture and sound quality to broadcast television networks such as Canwest Global.  The move to digital television will give over the air viewers the same sound and picture quality that cable and satellite subscribers get.

The DTV transition will also free up wireless spectrum required to open up the Canadian market to new competition for cell phone and wireless broadband service.  Will Bell rush to convert transmitters of CTV stations to digital.  Somehow I didn't think so.

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