Canadian Net Neutrality

Michael Geist writes that Rogers’ policy of packet shaping is leading to reduced speed of e-mail transfer, among other issues. Rogers has admitted to the practice of reducing packet size for certain services, including P2P sharing via Bit Torrent. With the adoption of encryption by P2P services, apparently Rogers has extended their policy to other “basic” internet services like encrypted e-mail. Writes Geist:

…[T]here is now speculation at my own university that the packet shaping is making it very difficult for University of Ottawa users to use email applications from home. The University of Ottawa uses a persistent SSL encryption technology for the thousands of professors and students who access their email from off-campus. There is speculation that Rogers is mistakenly treating the email traffic as BitTorrent traffic, thereby creating noticeable slowdowns. Indeed, I have been advised that the University computer help desk has received a steady stream of complaints from Rogers customers about off-campus email service.

This issue isn’t merely one which affects power-users who take up tremendous bandwidth. ISPs are careful about not guaranteeing bandwidth rates to customers, but this is about them intentionally reducing it. Throttling down anyone’s connection rate for any reason is no different than being given a partial meal for full price at a restaurant. If your ISP systematically reduces your basic service quality, why can’t you concomitantly reduce the amount you owe them for the service?

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