Bad news for Vidéotron. Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) strengthened its commitment to net neutrality and declared that all Internet Service Providers should treat data traffic equally. They have found that Vidéotron is giving an "undue preference to certain consumers and music streaming services, while subjecting other consumers and content providers to an unreasonable disadvantage. Vidéotron must ensure its Unlimited Music Service comes into compliance within 90 days."
•Broadband Internet access services can improve Canadians’ quality of life and empower them as citizens, creators and consumers.
•Differential pricing occurs when the same or similar product or service is offered to customers at different prices. These practices can be applied to both wireline and mobile wireless data plans.
•The CRTC has established a clear and transparent regulatory framework to govern these practices, which supports the ability for all creators of online content to innovate freely and allows consumers to choose what they wish to consume without interference.
•This framework will be used to assess whether a differential pricing practice involves an undue or unreasonable preference or disadvantage.
•The CRTC has developed an evaluation criteria to assess the degree to which the data is being treated the same regardless of the content, whether the offering is exclusive, the impact on Internet openness and innovation, and whether it involves a financial compensation.
•The CRTC’s existing decisions and frameworks, which now includes its approach to differential pricing, constitute a net neutrality code.
•Vidéotron’s Unlimited Music service exempts several music streaming services from data charges under certain mobile plans (a practice also known as zero-rating).
"A free and open Internet gives everyone a fair chance to innovate and for a vast array of content to be discovered by consumers. A free and open Internet also allows citizens to be informed and engage on issues of public concern without undue or inappropriate interference by those who operate those networks. Rather than offering its subscribers selected content at different data usage prices, Internet service providers should be offering more data at lower prices. That way, subscribers can choose for themselves what content they want to consume.” - Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO, CRTC
The new framework has been published and can be read in full here.