Canada's Failure To Actually Enforce Its Net Neutrality Rules Shows Why Focusing On Regulation Is Missing The Point

from the competition-is-the-thing dept

For many, many years we've pointed out that the debate over "network neutrality" in the US was a red herring. The discussions around net neutrality are really just a symptom of the real problem: that we lack true competition in the broadband market. Furthermore, we've noted that any attempt to put in place net neutrality regulations would likely be a failure, because of the lobbying clout of the likes of AT&T and others. The end result would be incredibly favorable to the telcos, not to the public and, in fact, we've seen glimpses of that happening already.

Adding another datapoint (or, several) to this debate is Michael Geist, who got access to information about how Canadian regulators enforced that country's net neutrality rules and discovered that regulators there basically don't enforce a damn thing. They more or less let the telcos do what they want.
Although the CRTC has not publicly disclosed details on net neutrality complaints and the resulting investigations, I recently filed an Access to Information request to learn more about what has been taking place behind the scenes. A review of hundreds of pages of documents discloses that virtually all major Canadian ISPs have been the target of complaints, but there have been few, if any, consequences arising from the complaints process. In fact, the CRTC has frequently dismissed complaints as being outside of the scope of the policy, lacking in evidence, or sided with Internet provider practices. Rogers Communications has been the target of nearly half of all cases opened in response to net neutrality complaints. In recent months, there have been multiple complaints arising from bandwidth throttling of World of Warcraft, a popular multi-player online game. Rogers initially denied any wrongdoing, only to later acknowledge that there was a problem. The company promised to address the issue, though no consequences arose and it was not forced to publicly disclose the issue.
Once again, the problem is not with net neutrality, but with a lack of competition. If you had real competition, people would choose to go with more neutral providers, forcing the market to follow. It's the lack of competition that lets telcos push for less than neutral solutions, and it's the regulatory capture that makes any attempt to legislate neutrality next to useless.
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Filed Under: canada, competition, enforcement, net neutrality, regulation


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  1. icon
    ottermaton (profile), 12 Jul 2011 @ 11:45pm

    circles

    Let me point out how this is wrong, and you're just talking in circles by way of analogy:

    There are a group of gangs in your neighborhood that are running wild, causing mayhem and extorting money from the community. The gangs are the big Telco's in this example.

    These gangs have infiltrated the local cops and by way of bribe and/or coercion have persuaded the cops to leave the gangs alone or only make token arrests with no meaningful punishment. The cops are the CRTC (or FCC in 'Merica).

    And your solution is to ... get rid of the cops and/or undo the laws the gangs are violating.

    WHAT?!?!?

    I'm am SO sick of hearing this "free market will sort itself out" argument. The guys who have caused and continue to cause the problems are suddenly just going to start doing the "right thing" if we just let them alone to do what they want? Hardly.

    Just because whatever agency has been less than vigilant in reigning in the abuse these giant corps dish out is NO REASON to remove the regulators/regulations. It WILL NOT WORK. They always have acted and always will act solely in their own best interest, public be damned. There's no magical "market force" that will stop them.

    Free markets are driven by profit. Profit can be equated to growth. And growth will invariably lead to monopolies.

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