Canada investigates P2P blocking, finds it just about everywhere

With the United States' FCC continuing to crack down on Comcast, the Canadian government is finally starting to take action, too, against ISPs that slow down Internet traffic.

Newly released results of an investigation by the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reveal that all major ISPs in Canada are interfering with network traffic.

Canadian ISPs Bells, Rogers, Eastlink, and Cogeco all specifically admitted to slowing P2P traffic.

Shaw, another big ISP, conceded to the agency that its customers are getting slowed down, but in confidence and without specifically pointing to P2P.

The CRTC's investigation was driven directly by charges from the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) -- a band of small ISPs that rent portions of Bell's networks -- that Bell's previously admitted use of deep packet inspection (DPI) technology amounts to unfair competition.

Google then jumped into the fray, allying with CAIP and adding the legal argument that Bell's DPI use violates Canada's telecommunications law.

"From consumer, competition and innovation perspectives, throttling applications that consumers choose is inconsistent with a content- and application-neutral Internet, and a violation of Canadian telecommunications law, which forbids unfair discrimination and undue or unreasonable preferences and requires that regulation be technologically and competitively neutral," Google's lawyers wrote in July.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the FCC in August ordered US service provider Comcast to stop blocking P2P traffic by the end of the year and change its network management policies in order to avoid an immediate court injunction. At the beginning of 2009, Comcast sent a letter to the FCC contending that the company no longer slows or blocks P2P applications.

FCC scrutiny of Comcast hasn't stopped, though. Later this month, Comcast got a letter from the FCC questioning, among other things, why the company regards its VoIP services as separate and distinct from its Internet services.

Canada's CRTC, however, hasn't yet moved beyond the data collection phase. It's still unclear yet whether the Canadian agency will follow the FCC's lead and demand an end to P2P blocking.

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