Lost amid the 129 recommendations of the Telecom Review Panel's long-awaited report, which was released earlier this week were a few paragraphs about net neutrality – but they could be the foundation for a much-needed policy that Canada's telecom regulator – the CRTC – has yet to address. Here's some of the text from the recommendation:
“The report notes that there is growing concern that increasingly deregulated telecommunications service providers could, for strategic reasons decide to block or limit access to some Internet applications and content. Therefore, the panel recommends that the Telecommunications Act should confirm the right of Canadian consumers to access publicly available Internet applications and content by means of all public telecommunications networks that provide access to the Internet…..The panel believes telecommunications service providers, in most cases, have little or no incentive to interfere with customer access. However, the principle to open access to the Internet is sufficiently important that it justifies a new regulatory provision to ensure that it is maintained.”
Granted, this is just one recommendation that's short on details and long on wishing thinking but at least someone is recognizing the importance of net neutrality. If this is just the start of a more comprehensive, detailed public discussion, then the panel will have done its job. Does it strike anyone as strange that the net neutrality issue is red-hot in the U.S. while it's still lurking in the bushes in Canada? Maybe it's because the Canadian carriers such as Bell and Telus have not been has aggressive about implementing downstream tollgates or prioritization fees – other than Shaw and its mysterious $10/month QoS “enhancement” fee that improves the quality of non-Shaw VoIP services such as Vonage. Vonage, by the way, recently filed a complaint with the CRTC so maybe this will be the spark needed to put net neutrality on the front burner.