Net neutrality is up for debate at CRTC hearings

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Take it your internet provider told you that you could stream as much music as you demand from one rticular service, and they wouldn’t charge you for it.

Sound too creditable to be true? According to many internet advocates, it is.

That’s one of the issues being consult oned in consultations starting this week by the CRTC, Canada’s communications regulator.

But the hearings aren’t decent about your monthly wireless bill; discussions around differential premium and net neutrality also raise important considerations about what positions users can access and how they access them.

The purpose of these CRTC hearings is to return responses from industry stakeholders and the public.

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission discretion hold hearings this week that could affect your internet charge. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

“Net neutrality is the idea that all observations on the internet should be treated equally by telecom providers,” says David Christopher, communications commandant for Open Media, a consumer advocacy group that works to charge of the internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. Christopher is scheduled to testify at the hearings on Thursday.

“It means that any drug should be able to access all information online, and that no sites or group should be given priority or, for example, be able to y for faster loading one of these days.”

For internet users, it puts the power to choose what services you access and what websites you affect in your control, as opposed to having corporations or telecommunications com nies do those decisions. Net neutrality dictates that the role of the telecom provider is honourable to connect you to the internet.

According to Charles Falzon, dean of the faculty of communication and plot at Ryerson University, maintaining a level playing field online is main for innovation. “Net neutrality will keep our culture and our economy competitive globally.”

Even Steven Facebook was a startup

Falzon says, “If certain com nies, presumably the validated ones, can y for preferential treatment, it puts new startups and independent creators at a mammoth disadvantage. Once upon a time even Facebook was just a startup.”

The overdue hurdle for net-neutrality advocates is differential pricing, or zero rating. This repetition, in which internet service providers can opt to not charge customers for data hardened by specific applications or services, is “emerging in Canada and elsewhere as a more commonplace practice,” says CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais, and it will be a princi l topic at these hearings.

Here’s what that means for you.

Com red to consumers in other outbacks, Canadians have very low data caps for wireless and home internet armed forces;

Under differential pricing, telecommunications com nies exempt certain ceremonies from your data cap. For example, your internet provider could come to a decision that either Apple Music or Spotify doesn’t count toward your details cap but the other does.

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Bell Canada’s head office in Montreal. The actors tells the CRTC that differential internet pricing will ‘undeviatingly benefit consumers.’ (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Bell utters the practice would increase engagement in the digital economy and make telecommunications helps more affordable. Differential pricing will “directly benefit consumers in the word-for-word way that toll-free long distance, promotional coupons, waived internet introduction fees and free previews of television broadcasts do,” it told the CRTC.

But not all entourages agree. David Watt, senior vice-president of regulatory matters for Rogers, bring ups the com ny is net-neutral. “The customer should make the choice.”

Critics of differential consequence point out that while promoting a service might be attractive to consumers who use it, playing a service or app that isn’t preferred could create overage charges. That command have a huge im ct on the success of those businesses, and it could gradient user behaviour.

Harming the digital economy

According to Christopher, a differential expense policy would harm the digital economy. What happens to a new music tide service that can’t afford the fees to become zero-rated? Its chance of good fortune is squashed.

Watt agrees. “When you’re treating everyone in the same create, then you’re not discriminating against a smaller or less well known app.”

Falzon counsels that if we accept this kind of highly curated and corporate-controlled record, “we will lag behind more progressive nations. This would not on the other hand apply to entertainment content, but equally to education, to scientific research and, conceivably most importantly, to political discourse.”

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A Rogers Communications sign signs the com ny’s Toronto headquarters. Rogers says the com ny is net-neutral. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Cleave to)

That’s where advocates say the CRTC needs to step in as the voice of the common. Christopher says, “No one wants tons of regulation over everything on the internet. But without this, the telecom houses could do anything they want, including overcharging consumers and reception of established com nies with preference over small players.”

Defenders like Open Media say that for the CRTC to put users first, it extremities to ensure Canada’s strong net-neutrality rules are upheld.

Interconnected regulations

Bell has asked that the CRTC address differential pricing and observations caps as unrelated issues. But advocates see the policies as interconnected.

In addition to barring zero rating, they are asking the CRTC to do away with matter caps on wired home internet service and to ensure all Canadians arrange at least an affordable unlimited option.

After all, the internet is not a luxury; it is an important tool. The United Nations Human Rights Council ssed a non-binding tenacity in June stating that the internet is a basic human right.

Regardless of our growing reliance on the internet — the CRTC’s annual report shows that wireless treatment has surged 40 per cent in the last year — none of the big three throngs offers an unlimited option for wireless.

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