Bell Canada Inc. is not breaking any laws by slowing internet speeds and will be allowed to continue throttling its customers, the CRTC has ruled.
The phone company, Canada's biggest internet service provider with two million high-speed customers, has shown that it needs to be able to manage its network in order to prevent congestion, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said in a decision released Thursday.
Bell will therefore be able to continue slowing the internet access it sells to smaller wholesale companies, as well as to its own retail subscribers. The company will be required to give its wholesale customers 30 days notice when it wants to implement changes to its network management practices.
“Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory," said CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein in a release. "Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers.”
The regulator's investigation, which began in May, was limited to Bell's wholesale practice and did not consider whether internet throttling should be allowed in general.
As such, the CRTC also announced it was opening a new probe into the larger issue of throttling, which is also done by other large internet service providers such as Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Inc. Interested parties will have until Feb. 16 to submit their thoughts and a public hearing will be held on July 6 in Gatineau, Que.
"The broader issue of internet traffic management raises a number of questions that affect both end-users and service providers,” von Finckenstein said. “We have decided to hold a separate proceeding to consider both wholesale and retail issues. Its main purpose will be to address the extent to which internet service providers can manage the traffic on their networks in accordance with the Telecommunications Act.”
Bell and the others say they need to throttle customers who use peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent because they are causing congestion on their networks.