CRTC Net Neutrality Hearings

Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2008-19, is the CRTC’s notice of proceedings and call for comments re forthcoming hearings on ‘Net Neutrality’.

I have made the following comments (using the question numbers in the ‘Call for Comments’ section of the Notice):

(1) re (a)&(b) I have no comment.

c) How should congestion be defined in an ISP’s network?

Congestion can be said to occur when data volumes are sufficient to interfere with the carrier’s ability to meet the terms of service that have been conracted or should reasonably be expected by customers

d) Are there applications or services that are more likely to cause congestion, and if so, what are they?

No. Congestion is caused when the infrastructure provided is not adequate to provide the data transfer rates that have been contracted for. It does not matter what applications or services are involved. (This answer depends to some extent  rejection of the assumptions implicit in the preamble to this question set (1) and on my responses below to Q(2)f).)

e) What are the relative bandwidth requirements for different types of Internet applications?

I don’t actually know what they are now, but I do know that we cannot know what they will be in the future (which is one of many reasons for various other opinions I have expressed in these comments).

a) What technologies could be employed by ISPs (for example, deep packet inspection) to manage Internet traffic?

Observation and billing for traffic volume with regard to source and destination without regard to its content.

re (b)(c)(d)(e) I have no comment

f) Describe the advantages and disadvantages (including end-user impacts) of employing the following practices in order to manage Internet traffic:
i. monthly bandwidth limits (bit caps),
This is acceptable so long as the purchase of higher limits is made available at a reasonable price.
ii. excess bandwidth usage charges,
iii. time of day usage pricing,
also perfectly acceptable
iv. peak period throttling,
v. end-user-based throttling,
This is not acceptable.
vi. application-based throttling,
This is not acceptable.
vii. content caching,
Only if done transparently and equally on all content types (and with facility for forced update by data source)
viii. upgrading network capacity
Of course this should be done as needed in order to provide the contracted level of service.
ix. others not listed above
Increased traffic volume can and should be dealt with by charging for date transfer (either as actually used or as guaranteed to be available), not by artificially giving preference to certain technologies. This will allow the consumer market to decide which technologies to use based on their cost/benefit ratio.

a) Should these requirements (for filing and notification as per Telecom Decision 2008-108 re Bell Canada) be extended to other ISPs providing wholesale Internet services such as the third party Internet access services offered by cable ISPs?
b) Are similar requirements necessary and appropriate in relation to the provision of retail Internet services?
c) If so, what kinds of practices, and/or changes to practices, should trigger these requirements and what information and how much notice should be provided to end-users?
There should be at least 3 months advance notice of any substantial change to performance.

a) What, if any, Internet traffic management practices employed by ISPs would result in unjust discrimination, undue or unreasonable preference or advantage?
Throttling P2P or other media providers and then distributing unthrottled either their own media or that of any other entities not completely at “arms length” (and this includes any special treatment provided at a price that is not openly available to all).

a) What, if any, Internet traffic management practices employed by ISPs would result in controlling the content, or influencing the meaning or purpose of telecommunications?
Any activity under (4)a) which could be construed to be motivated by the carrier’s opinion re the content or re the virtue or otherwise of the technology, plus spying and possibly censoring or even just reporting content.
b) For any Internet traffic management practice identified in (a), what criteria should the Commission apply in determining whether to authorize such practice?
Any legal requirements that may exist to make surveillance available to police for purposes of detecting and preventing illegal communications and/or other illegal acts.

a) What issues do Internet traffic management practices raise concerning the policy objectives of the Act?
Traffic management practices that do not treat all data streams equally conflict with a number of the objectives set out in Sec7. In particular, openness to new technologies on a level playing field is reqired for economic reasons to meet the requirements of objectives a)c)f)g) and the encouragement of self-publication and peer-peer networking is needed in order to build a strong social network as required by objectives a)h), and a strong limitation on deep packet inspection is required in order to guarantee the meeting of objective i).

a) In light of the Policy Direction (which requires the Commission to, among other things, rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible and when relying on regulation, use measures in a manner that interferes with market forces to the minimum extent necessary to meet the policy objectives-and also requires the Commission to ensure that non-economic measures are implemented, to the greatest extent possible, in a symmetrical and competitively neutral manner), address the requirement for, and the appropriateness of, implementing any regulatory measures in relation to Internet traffic management by ISPs.

The Policy Direction requires regulation in order to provide for the free action of market forces without subversion by ISPs

b) For each proposed regulatory measure, comment on how such measure would be consistent with the Policy Direction as well as how these measures could be implemented in the least intrusive manner.

The primary regulatory requirement should be that internet service must be provided in a way that is essentially blind to content (with regard both to information transmitted and application involved).

I have no comment on this section.

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