Category Archives: crtc

Rogers says new internet speeds are indeed new

Jose Reyes is undoubtedly the new shortstop for the Rogers’ owned Blue Jays.
But are Rogers’ new internet services really new?

In the latest internet access stoush before the CRTC, Rogers has fired back against independent internet service provider customers looking to get at its faster speeds. The small companies recently registered a complaint with the regulator, saying the cable provider has introduced new, faster speeds for its own customers at no extra cost. According to wholesale speed-matching rules, they say Rogers is thus required to do the same for the indie ISPs who use parts of its network to provide their own services.

As I wrote last week, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium - a group of small ISPs - say that Rogers’ new speed boosts are not really new, they’re just the same products with faster speeds. The cable company’s short-answer reply via the CRTC is: just because they have the same names as the old products doesn’t mean they aren’t new.

The longer answer has to do with mind-numbing details as to whether the services are counted as aggregated or disaggregated, which are different ways of setting up network infrastructures and counting traffic. Small ISPs say it’s considerably more expensive to use the aggregated approach and as such are also fighting the pricing model before the CRTC. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 20, 2012 in crtc, internet, rogers


Indie ISPs cry foul over Rogers’ speed boosts

Super high-speed internet? Maybe not if you’re with an indie ISP.

After a period of relative public calm, the internet access wars are ratcheting up once again with the CRTC being asked to intervene in a dispute between independent service providers and Rogers.

This time it’s the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, an affiliation of indie ISPs, accusing Rogers of trying to unfairly charge more for higher-speed services. CNOC says Rogers recently boosted download and upload speeds for its own retail customers without any price increases, a move that is supposed to automatically result in those same speeds being made available to independent ISPs who use parts of its network. CNOC says Rogers is offering its members those higher speeds, but only at an additional cost. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 13, 2012 in crtc, internet, rogers


A new CRTC? Not if lobbying isn’t balanced

Relatively new CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais was on a tear last week, proclaiming from every rooftop that there’s a new wind a-blowin’ at the regulator. It’s out with the old ways of doing business, where big businesses were all that mattered, and in with consumers, the every-day Joes that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is supposed to protect and look out for.

After so many years of rubber-stamping anti-consumer moves by those big corporations - usage-based billing, anyone? - and muddying up potentially pro-consumer developments (remember Wind Mobile?), the new stance is refreshing to hear.

Blais appears to understand that the regulator’s long legacy of catering to Bay Street rather than to Main Street means he’s in for an uphill battle. But so far under his watch, the CRTC does indeed look like a different beast. Just last month, the regulator announced plans to institute a code of conduct for wireless operators, with full input from the public, naturally.

That was followed in short order by a complete rejection of BCE’s mega-takeover attempt of broadcaster Astral, which consumer groups opposed on the grounds that it would give the telecom-media company too much power.

I jokingly wondered at the time at who was making these decisions and what they had done with the CRTC we all knew. To hear Blais tell it now, it looks like the announcements were indeed coming from a kinder, gentler regulator. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 8, 2012 in crtc, telecommunications


Wireless regulation in Canada? It’s about time

So the CRTC is looking to potentially regulate Canada’s wireless market? Well, it’s about bloody time.

When the Conservative government came to power in 2006, its attitude towards telecommunications was that regulation was entirely unnecessary. Under the near-fanatical market-forces zeal of then-Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, the CRTC was ordered to regulate telecom only as a last resort.

As Bernier gave way to his successor Jim Prentice, the focus in wireless remained on those market forces, but with a perverted twist. The government knew Canada’s cellphone market was wildly uncompetitive and it wanted to inject some new blood. The solution was to give potential new companies a leg up in an auction of wireless airwaves, so 40 per cent of the spectrum was reserved for such potential entrants. And come they did - Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile are all products of the scheme.

But the perversion of the government’s market-forces ideal came from its unwillingness to change Canada’s restrictive foreign ownership rules, which assured that only small, relatively poorly financed competitors to the likes of Bell, Rogers and Telus could spring up. The auction itself was a form of government intervention in markets, necessitated by its own cowardly refusal to remove the only real regulation that mattered (foreign ownership limits). Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on October 12, 2012 in crtc, mobile, telecommunications


Netflix and Canada’s ‘third-world’ internet

Netflix’s selection in Canada is the real human rights violation.

I don’t know about you, but every time I exceed my monthly internet limit and get a hefty bill, I feel like my human rights are being violated.

Such was the suggestion from Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos at the Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday. As reported by Gigaom, Sarandos was talking about Canadian internet providers and the low monthly usage limits they give customers. Here’s how he responded when asked if Netflix’s mediocre content offering in Canada was limiting the company’s growth here:

Viewing hours are almost… are very similar [in Canada] to the US. The problem in Canada is not content, the problem in Canada, which is one of our strongest markets, is they have almost third world access to the internet. Not because it’s constrained for any reason except for money. They have very low datacaps with all the broadband providers in Canada and they charge an enormous amount if you go over your broadband cap. It made us be much more innovative about compression and delivery technology so we are less broadband consumptive in Canada… It’s almost a human rights violation what they charge for internet access in Canada.

The comments took me aback when I first read them. I’m usually the first in line to point out Canada’s broadband shortcomings, but Sarandos seemed to be taking it over the top. Human rights violations? Come on. Perhaps Netflix executives should do some time in Guantanamo or try out some water boarding before they throw such accusations around.

Is expensive internet a bad thing? Absolutely. Is it a human rights violation? Not really.

And yes, Netflix’s Canadian offerings are quite crappy. Amazingly, that hasn’t stopped the service from growing quickly here. At least 10 per cent of Canadians are subscribing while one analyst believes that number to be closer to 17 per cent.

Hyperbole aside, I wondered if there was anything to Sarandos’ comments, particularly in regards to “third-world” internet access. I figured I’d check the numbers again. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 17, 2012 in crtc, internet, netflix


Tests show CRTC’s anti-throttling rules are useless

We couldn’t have a week of broadband fun here on the blog without talking about that old favourite topic: throttling. You know, what internet providers do to online services and applications they don’t like, and/or that may compete with things they sell.

A group of researchers from around the globe have been using M-Labs, a tool set up by Google, for a while now to keep tabs on internet service providers and their throttling. Back in October of last year, they found that since 2008, Rogers had been the worst ISP in the world when it came to slowing down customers’ connections.

In February, the cable company promised to phase out throttling by the end of this year, with about half of all customers to see results starting in June.

The latest quarterly M-Labs results set a pretty good baseline against which to compare throughout the rest of the year, to see if Rogers is being true to its word. As the pic below shows, about 80% of tested Rogers connections were throttled as of March, 2012. Only one ISP in the world - J:Com in Japan - scored higher. But with a far smaller sampling of tests, the result is less accurate than that for Rogers. Interestingly, despite that promise, the 80% result for Rogers is a small, 1% uptick from the fourth quarter of 2011.

Perhaps the more interesting result, however, is from Bell, which was found to be throttling 77% of connections in the first quarter of 2012. Not only is that good enough for the global silver medal to Rogers’ gold, it’s also a 5% increase from the previous quarter.

That’s a strange result in light of a December letter to the CRTC, where Bell said it would “will withdraw the shaping of P2P traffic on the companies’ networks, with regards to both retail and wholesale traffic, effective 1 March 2012.”

Collectively, these are also strange results given the net neutrality rules established by the regulator in 2009, which stated that throttling should only be used as a last-ditch effort to manage network congestion. As the M-Labs researchers put it in their specific notes on Canada:

The data pattern for Canada is interesting because it shows that BitTorrent throttling by Bell Canada actually increases substantially in late 2010 and 2011, after a 2009 CRTC decision regulating Internet Traffic Management Practices… Bell Canada and Rogers were both among the world’s top 10 throttlers in 2011 and 2012… As of the 1st of March 2012 there is no sign of any change.

Neither Bell nor Rogers has broken their promises regarding the end of throttling yet, but the deadline is now official. Three months from now, when the researchers release their next set of quarterly findings, we’ll be able to see if the two companies are being true to their word. With the trend lines going in the wrong direction, it’s fair to be skeptical as to whether they’ll actually keep those promises.


Posted by on August 17, 2012 in crtc, internet


CRTC claims victory but Rogers still a top throttler

Is that W. or new CRTC chair Jean Pierre Blais?

They say that a pat on the back is only 12 inches from a kick in the pants. After last week’s brazenly self-congratulatory press release, it’s an idiom the CRTC really should take to heart.

If you missed it, the regulator declared victory over Rogers and its throttling ways with an announcement that it was closing its investigation into the cable provider’s internet traffic management practices (ITMPs). “The CRTC is satisfied that Rogers has addressed its concerns regarding the company’s practice of slowing down certain types of internet traffic,” the release proclaimed.

The investigation stemmed from complaints brought forward by several individuals that Rogers was slowing down connection speeds to the point where online games such as World of Warcraft were unplayable. The situation was never terribly surprising, given that both the cable company and rival Bell Canada continue to be among the worst throttlers in the world, as Google M-Labs data for the first quarter of 2012 show. (Bell said last year it would cease throttling by March 1, 2012 - next quarter’s data should show whether the company was true to its word.)

The regulator ignored these complaints until the cause was taken up by the newly formed Canadian Gamers Organization. Or so everyone thought. Shortly after the CRTC published its release, CGO spokesman Jason Koblovsky issued his own statement - and he was less than satisfied with the supposed victory, to say the least. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 9, 2012 in crtc, net neutrality, rogers


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