Net Neutrality in the Great White North

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As you have probably heard, the ongoing debate over Net Neutrality has been heating up the Great White North in the last few weeks.

There has been a large amount of anger and public outrage over the CRTC’s recent (Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission) decision to allow for usage based billing. Major ISPs such as SHAW, Telus and Primus have of course, been strong supporters and are only too happy to accept the new ruling.

It seems to be such a contentious issue for so many people, yet so many of us have no real idea of what net neutrality is, or how it impacts us as individuals (watch for an upcoming post by Beanstalk to help de-mystify Net Neutrality). Despite all the apparent anger, no one really seems to understand what this means to them personally or to the internet as a whole. With so much misinformation people are not even sure what they are getting worked up about. All they know is that it will now cost money to download all those wonderful torrents that they previously enjoyed for free.

Is capping bandwidth simply a money grab for ISPs with the CRTC ruling in favour of business over individuals? What about those businesses that rely on the transfer of encrypted data transfers continuously to run and operate?

Now this is where the issue really starts to heat up. If you forego your cable TV service with Shaw but still have internet service through them, what happens when you have a subscription to Netflix and watch only streaming movies? You are now paying for your Netflix subscription as well as being changed for the extra bandwidth. Savvy?

IMO, I don’t mind being charged for downloads over 1GB if they are torrents (something my son may disagree with). With ISPs talking about about charging $2/GB, that could add up fast for harcore torrent fiends. Considering an average torrent movie size is about 1GB (for non-HD or Blu-Ray), that’s still a lot cheaper than going to rent the same movie at the local video store. Personally, I would like to see XX number of GB alotted in your monthly service agreement with your ISP and be charged a higher premium once you exceed that amount.

Video rental stores have been dropping like flies, so maybe the new CRTC ruling will have people start going back to their local video stores and start renting movies again, or maybe people will start going to movie theatres more and help to provide an influx of revenue into local economies.

As Canadians, we need to calmly look at both sides of the issues and really weigh the pros and cons. People get very emotional, especially when it affects their wallets. We have to take a step back and look at what is important in the grand scheme of things. The fact of the matter is that we live in a capitalist society. If I was an owner of an ISP, I would certainly look for ways to increase revenue for myself, my business and my employees. The important thing to remember is that there are two sides to every issue.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with paying for premium services. By the same token I would like to see public Wi-Fi services available for free. Make no mistake, this is a hot issue and we certainly have not heard the last of it.

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition organized by the Vancouver-based open communications advocacy group against the CRTC decision. For those of you that would like to sign the petition against the CRTC ruling, have a look at

The federal government will decide by March 1 whether to reject a CRTC decision on the usage-based internet billing, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper requested a review.

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