My discussion with the CRTC

Originally posted to facebook: (Comments copied for archival)
For the first time I got to speak with the CRTC's new media guys via conference call. Steve Anderson had set it up, and the agenda was all things new media.

Most of the call didn't matter much to me, they talked largely about how to fund new media, canadian content rules and other content production mechanisms.

I was there to speak on Net Neutrality, duh. And the CRTC surprised me in what they already knew and what they really had wrong. We talked about how prioritization was hurting bittorrent distribution of free software, how video distribution was hurt and about other negative aspects. But mostly we stressed the stated intention of the carriers.

They responded that they already had most of the legislation, 27(2) for example, trying to declare that no new net neutrality regulations were required. A common industry remark.

I of course countered, yes, they have the ability, but the interpretation of unjust and undue are so vague and that the way it has been read is not as a neutrality regulation -- but they seem to hold the card as an, if it gets bad, we'll read this the way we want and fix it. Ya, right.

But what shocked me was when we started to discuss P2P. One of the CRTC participants likened it to the hanta virus in saying that it can't just be allowed to run free, 'it will run free and consume everything' he said. To which we surely hurt some ears with a resounding scream NO. The carriers had actually sold this to the CRTC, and they were scared that NN regulations == screwed network thanks to p2p.

Calmly, I explained that it wasn't the CRTC's job to ensure that the carriers could continue to sell 'unlimited' bandwidth [which we all know isnt unlimited] in the hopes that they can prevent you from using it. Instead, I explained that we should be pricing traffic as if it were electricity or any other commodity service, and that many ISPs are already moving to this model. With a neutral network, and people paying for what they use, then P2P not only doesnt need to be deprioritized, but it can be embraced as the way to sell more bandwidth.

In all it was a good call, we got across the points about competition differentials and how a lack of clear neutrality regulation harms investment in new media. I was left with the impression that the CRTC had heard more from telecom's than the public, and hopefully we've now countered some of the misconceptions they had.

The next steps are clear, public consultation and hearings on Net Neutrality are critical.

 Steve Anderson at 4:40pm October 22
Kevin, it was great to have you on the call! You really know how to make clear sound arguments on this topic in a way that resonates with the likes of the CRTC. I've written on NN a few times but I think I now have some new points to add to my reservoir.

"The next steps are clear, public consultation and hearings on Net Neutrality are critical."