TORONTO -- Whether motivated by pragmatism or profit, Internet service providers and experts agree that consumers are likely to suffer most from "traffic-shaping'' policies implemented by some of Canada's telecom giants.Quote has been trimmed
Bell Canada's recent decision to quietly restrict the amount of file-sharing traffic flowing through its network during peak times has ignited a fierce debate over the level of competition permitted in the industry and the number of options available to Internet users seeking speedy service.
The Canadian Association of Internet Providers alleges that Bell has effectively curtailed competition in the industry by applying its traffic-restriction policies to any providers who deliver Internet service using Bell's telephone lines in Quebec and Ontario.
The traffic-shaping initiative was launched without prior notice to customers in mid-March, and the association said the full extent of the measures should be in place Monday, resulting in significantly slower Internet service across the board between 4:30 p.m. ET to 2:00 a.m. ET.
Bell maintains the new policies are intended to level the playing field by preventing a small group of Internet users from hogging coveted bandwidth, although officials did not say why the policies are not being implemented in other parts of the...
But within Bell itself, there are diverging views on what constitutes an optimal network management strategy.
Bell Aliant, the primary telephone carrier in the Maritimes, has not implemented traffic shaping policies for either its own customers or third-party providers.
"There are many different ways to manage and monitor a network,'' said Alyson Queen, public affairs manager for Bell Aliant. "We work with our customers very closely, monitor industry trends, and provide them with as much help as we can.''
In central Canada, Bell customers facing the prospect of reduced Internet speeds will also have to contend with changes to the way they pay for online access.
According to the association's application to the CRTC, Bell has eliminated its unlimited Internet plan and as of June 30 will bill based on how much bandwidth a customer has used, mimicking the billing format used by cellphone service providers.
Cacksackers! There's no need for it... it's a friggin money grab. Good thing I live in the maritimes at the moment. They did the same damn thing when dialup came around.... it's pathetic and there's no need for it.
Rogers recently announced similar billing changes to take effect in June, charging between $1.25 and $5 for every extra gigabyte a customer uses.
Copeland said Telus, another major telecom giant with a strong western customer base, neither engages in traffic shaping nor bills according to usage.