Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. This idea is constantly being challenged or stretched to the limits by many carriers and businesses – it seems that they want to see how far they can go before some person, business, or government challenges them on their practices.
Bell Media and Videotron recently found out just how far the Canadian 'watchdog' CRTC would let them go before it stepped in and ruled that their practice of exempting their own apps from data charges was "unlawful." Consumer rights groups are calling it a landmark ruling in favor of the principal of Net Neutrality.
This all started back in November 2013 when Manitoba-based telecom analyst, Ben Klass, filed a complaint. When you used the Bell Mobility TV app, they were only charging $5 a month and throwing in an extra 5GB of data that did not count towards the regular monthly data charges, while apps, such as Netflix were not afford this extra data. Public interest groups filed similar charges against Videotron for following the same practices. Rogers was initially mentioned in the complaint, but changed their practices in mid-2014.
"CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais said in a speech, "The CRTC supports innovation on new platforms, but Bell and Videotron were giving certain unlawful preferences to their mobile TV services." Blais touted the opinions of Net Neutrality and said we need "our ability to access content equally and fairly, in an open market that favours innovation and choice…but when the impetus to innovate steps on the toes of the principle of fair and open access to content, we will intervene."
It will be interesting how all of this will affect OTT (Over-The-Top) television – Bell, Rogers and Shaw, the largest media owners in Canada – recently launched services that are tethered through existing cable or internet subscriptions, but are also available over one's mobile device. Blais said during his press conference they have no current plans to regulate OTT services, but he would like to see them operated with the benefit of the consumers in mind.
Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know how you feel about the CRTC's decision and your thoughts on Net Neutrality…as always, we would love to hear from you.