Net Neutrality is a “headline-grabbing subject” according to Ken Engelhart, a Rogers’s head of regulatory affairs. In a Financial Post comment, Ken writes that network neutrality violations haven’t happened, and aren’t likely to happen.
“No carriers have ever tried to charge any website for access to their networks. Similarly, there have been virtually no cases of carriers blocking applications.” – Ken Engelhart, Financial Post
He then goes on to do what so many telecom executives love to do: Insist that ISPs have never charged content providers for network access, blame Netflix for the large amount of data being “forced” on ISP’s and then question what the big, bad government will do next to attack consumers!
There is so much to talk about with these points. Let’s first start off by noting that there are examples of content providers demanding money for actual network access.
- Just several weeks ago, it was announced that Internet providers in Europe will soon be able to ignore net neutrality principles due to new rules that offer a carve-out an exemption for “Internet TV and new innovative applications.”
- When AT&T wanted customers with unlimited data plans to use Facetime over their cellular network, they forced those customers to sign up for the company’s new shared data plans and its hefty $15 overages. Essentially, AT&T was forcing consumers to pay more money for additional access to their network through the Facetime app.
- Last year, Netflix struck an interconnection deal with Verizon and Comcast after the ISP’s allowed peering points with transit operators to deteriorate so that customers of those ISP’s would have speed issues with Netflix.
- In 2010, Level 3 accused Comcast of demanding an additional fee from Level 3 to transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast customers while Zoom accused Comcast of “restricting consumer access to innovative devices” by creating artificial barriers for consumer hardware, such as the increased cost of device testing and creating additional hurdles above and beyond CableLabs testing.
- In 2006, UK ISP’s demanded that they be paid for dealing with the influx of data traffic being caused by customers using the BBC’s new video iPlayer software. The ISP’s wanted their networks to be subsidized by companies such as the BBC.
“The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video. We have been improving our capacity, but the bandwidth we have is not infinite. If the iPlayer really takes off, consumers accessing the internet will get very slow service and will call their ISPs to complain.” – Mary Turner, chief executive of Tiscali UK
In fact, these issues aren’t new. Back in 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that the “major broadband providers, including BellSouth and SBC/AT&T, are beginning to consider charging content providers for network access.”
But let’s get back to Rogers and their history with net neutrality.
- The CRTC has notified Rogers it has evidence the company is violating federal net neutrality rules by deliberately slowing down or “throttling” some of its internet traffic. – CBC.ca, 01/23/12
- That CRTC policy as well as broader considerations under the country’s telecom and broadcast rules are likely to come under play as the commission considers the mobile TV complaint. The application began with a challenge last November to BCE’s Mobile TV app, which lets Bell Mobility subscribers access 30 live and 14 on-demand television channels from their mobile device for $5 per month. Here’s the key issue: the 10 hours per month of viewing included with the service do not count against the user’s data cap on their phone plan. Ben Klass, a graduate student at the University of Manitoba who filed the complaint, argued that the app gives Bell’s own service a preference over other over-the-top (OTT) services such as Netflix, which cost subscribers more to watch because they are not exempt from the data cap. In January, the CRTC combined the application with two other complaints filed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre about similar apps from Rogers Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc.-owned Videotron. – Financial Post, 04/24/14
- Based on a recent article from Mobile Syrup, it appears that the carrier intends to create unfair incentives for customers that privilege certain services–their own–over others, violating the principle of net neutrality. Mobile Syrup reports that new customers will be shifting towards a loyalty-based membership program focused on rewards like credit towards streaming music and a certain allotment of video streaming (with a heavy emphasis on Rogers’ Vice Media partnership). – OpenMedia.ca, 2015
Back to Netflix, why is it that telecom people love to cry about Netflix sending them so much data yet never mention that those looking to use Netflix and/or data-heavy apps tend to steer towards the faster, more expensive ISP plans? Better yet, as Consumerist notes, why are ISP’s even discussing being “paid” by Netflix when they are already being paid by their own customers, and even though they are only carrying that content for a small fraction of its journey.
Netflix isn’t screwing over anyone. As Karl Bode has written:
Consumers pay for bandwidth, Netflix pays for bandwidth, and everybody pays a variety of middlemen for interconnection and transit. Everybody is paying — quite often a lot — and consumers bear the brunt of it. What appears to be happening is that Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are eager to kill off free, balanced peering exchanges and make more money by growing their own direct transit and interconnection businesses. As such they all quietly agreed to let their peering points saturate to the point where Netflix streaming on AT&T, Verizon and Comcast began to tank horribly, then demanded money directly from Netflix if they want the problem to go away. – DSLReports
Does anyone remember how Rogers responded when Netflix declared their intent to enter Canada? They LOWERED customers data caps.
Two days after Netflix, the U.S.-based on-demand online video service, announced it will be entering the Canadian market in the fall, Rogers lowered the cap on many of its service plans in Ontario…According to CBC News, Rogers did not explain the changes, nor did a spokesperson provide comment. – BlogTo