Shared Community WiFi Networking Blog From A Toronto Co-op ISP

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Supporting CAIP at the CRTC against Bell's "Throttling"

22 April 2008

Mr. Robert A. Morin
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Dear Mr. Morin,

Re: An application requesting certain orders directing Bell Canada to cease and desist from "throttling" its wholesale ADSL access services."

1. The Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) has requested that the Commission direct Bell Canada to cease and desist from "throttling" wholesale ADSL Internet services and in particular, the Gateway Access Service (GAS) wholesale internet service.

2. Wireless Nomad requests that the Commission grant CAIP’s request for an interim order directing Bell Canada to stop "throttling" its GAS service. This order should remain in effect until the Commission issues a decision as to the substantive portion of CAIP’s application.

3. "Throttling" of GAS services by Bell Canada is undermining its competitors in the Internet services marketplace, unduly impairing a system upon which competitors must rely, cripples ADSL by approximately 90% for modern applications that most require significant bandwidth, unduly impairs legitimate communications such as encrypted sessions, and the need for Bell Canada to do so is not substantiated with any evidence whatsoever.

About Wireless Nomad ISP Co-Op

4. Wireless Nomad ISP Co-op is a subscriber-owned high-speed Internet and public WiFi provider operating in Toronto since February, 2005. We resell high-speed Internet service to our subscribers, who in turn provide shared public wireless Internet access using the 802.11b/g “WiFi” system.

5. Our network is built on the basis of collaborative use of Internet resources, open access, and corporate transparency. The Internet connections of our subscribers are theirs to use as they see fit, within the bounds of the law. Wireless Nomad does not alter or interfere with the communications of our subscribers, regardless of transmission protocol, operating system, or content of the communication.

6. Wireless Nomad's commitment to the neutrality of our network has played a significant role in our organization earning a share of Toronto’s Internet services business, despite the market dominance of the incumbent ADSL provider, Bell Canada.

CAIP’s Application Raises a Significant Issue for Consideration by the Commission

7. Wireless Nomad submits that the application by CAIP raises a significant issue for consideration by the Commission. Specifically, it raises the issue of whether or not Bell Canada is providing undue and unreasonable preference for its services, and disadvantage for other providers, which would be in contravention of S. 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act, which states (emphasis added):

27(2) No Canadian carrier shall, in relation to the provision of a telecommunications service or the charging of a rate for it, unjustly discriminate or give an undue or unreasonable preference toward any person, including itself, or subject any person to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage.

"Throttling" Impairs Internet Access of Our Subscribers

8. In our experience, Bell Canada’s "throttling" of GAS services has significantly impaired the Internet access of our subscribers. By discriminating against certain types of our subscribers’ communications, Bell Canada has reduced the Internet access speed of those communications by approximately 90%.

9. At a time when 20-megabit or even 50-megabit home Internet access is becoming commonplace in other developed economies, it defies common sense to reduce our already inadequate 5-megabit Internet connections by 90% for the very applications that require modern high-speed access most of all.

10. Furthermore, in its quest to discriminate against so-called “peer-to-peer” communications, Bell Canada, in our experience, classifies many forms of encrypted communications (including SSH sessions) as potentially “peer-to-peer”, and cripples Internet access for those communications by reducing their speed by approximately 90%.

There is No Alternative to GAS Services for Competitive Access

11. In Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-17, the Commission confirmed that independent Internet providers creating competitive alternatives in the high-speed Internet access market must rely on infrastructure controlled by incumbent carriers such as Bell Canada.

12. In our experience, this is absolutely correct: fibre-to-the-home is costly, and wireless alternatives have significant limitations. In short, there is no technological or economic alternative to the current GAS-based system.

"Throttling" by Bell Canada is Harmful to its Competitors

13. The interference by the incumbent telecommunications carrier in the operations of independent high-speed Internet access providers is highly detrimental to the business interests of said independent internet providers, and to the personal and commercial interests of the subscribers of said independent internet providers.

14. This interference significantly reduces the options available to Internet access consumers. Competition in the Internet services marketplace takes place in more dimensions than brand-name and price. Customer service plays a significant role, as does the type of customer premises equipment provided, as well as the length of service contracts. Also critically important in differentiating offerings by various Internet providers are the terms of service negotiated with Internet service subscribers.

Having Different Terms of Service is a Competitive Tool

15. Critically important in differentiating offerings by various Internet providers are the terms of service -- the policies that an Internet provider has in relation to e-mail transmission, blocking ports, the connection of multiple computers on a home network, the use of shared wireless access devices, total data transfer per month, and whether or not a provider interferes with any communications going across its network.

16. Bell Canada has chosen to have a particular set of policies comprise its terms of service. It blocks Port 25 (outgoing email), limits many types of applications

17. Wireless Nomad, like many other independent Internet providers, has chosen to have a different set of policies comprise its terms of service. This is part of our business model, and it has been a successful one. It is not, however, part of Bell Canada's business model- that is, until Bell Canada began to interfere with our access to GAS services and crippled the Internet connections of our subscribers in such a way as to match Bell Canada's idea of what an Internet provider's terms of service should be.

18. Accordingly, Bell Canada's "throttling" of GAS services is an anti-competitive move that eliminates a source of product differentiation that was popular amongst consumers. To allow Bell Canada to continue its "throttling" will only serve to alienate consumers, undermine independent providers, and reduce competition in the Internet services marketplace.

19. To help preserve competition in the terms of service available to Internet subscribers, Wireless Nomad submits that the Commission should prevent Bell Canada from using its privileged position as an incumbent carrier to eliminate this source of competition.

There Is No Evidence That Internet Access Needs to Be "Throttled"

20. In relation to Bell Canada’s claims about Internet traffic volumes requiring that they interfere with the communications of the subscribers of independent providers, Wireless Nomad submits that, in our experience, our subscribers have been generally satisfied with the speed of their Internet connections given the limited specifications of ADSL as deployed by Bell Canada and the terms of service for which they contracted.

21. In our experience, there is no Internet service "rush hour" problem that needs to be fixed. Demands on the network increase every year, just as computational power, storage capacity, and network bandwidth increase each year. Congestion should be addressed by using faster, cheaper, and better technologies as they become available, rather than relying upon a "build-once, sell over-and-over” strategy.

22. Furthermore, Wireless Nomad submits that, in our experience, there has been no increase in general Internet access speed for any of our subscribers. This fact contradicts the assertion by Bell Canada that the so-called "throttling" of GAS services is required to ease traffic congestion, so as to provide more speed for Internet use is that it does not discriminate against.

23. Given that no additional speed has been experienced by our subscribers while using applications that are not subject to "throttling", and instead our subscribers have found that valuable applications they rely upon daily have been crippled, we submit to the Commission that there is no evidence that "throttling" has anything to do with improving or maintaining Internet access speeds for any type of application.

Ordering Bell Canada to Cease "Throttling" Would be Proportionate, Effective, and Prevent Ongoing Harm to Bell Canada's Competitors

24. Wireless Nomad submits that an interim order by the Commission directing Bell Canada to cease "throttling" GAS would be a proportionate and effective measure that would help support a functioning marketplace for Internet services.

25. Wireless Nomad also submits that its business interests and the interests of its subscribers are harmed each and every day that Bell Canada is permitted to "throttle" GAS services- our position in the marketplace is being undermined, and our subscribers are not getting the Internet service that they pay good money for.

26. For these reasons, and the others discussed above, Wireless Nomad requests that the Commission allow CAIP’s application and order Bell Canada to cease and desist "throttling" GAS services until such a time as the Commission may consider the entire matter on its merits.


Blogger Craig said...

I guess that explains why my VPN connection to the office has been getting slower to the point of being non functional. I work from home for an American company. This is impacting my ability to do my job, and thus stay employed.

12:43 p.m., April 27, 2008

Blogger Adam Norman said...

That is a beautiful piece of reasoning--and it seems totally correct. Well done!

8:50 p.m., April 30, 2008

Blogger davidbaer said...

Think about this.
If you really did find a working formula that made you, say $1,000 a week online on average and it kept producing income no matter what, would you want to sell that idea to a bunch of noobs for $47 a pop and expect to retire on the proceeds? No way, man! It does not compute. It does not add up. And it does not make any sense to do that. I certainly don’t go shouting from the rooftops how I make my money online. Hell, I don’t want the competition taking a slice of my pie and neither would anyone who really does make good cash online.

6:07 a.m., January 19, 2010


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