CRTC: Internet Providers Must Treat All Web Traffic Equally

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TORONTO — Canada's telecommunications watchdog says Internet providers can no longer exempt some video and music streaming services from cellular data plans in a move it hopes will spur telecommunications companies to offer consumers more data at lower prices.

The CRTC ruled that Internet providers must treat all web traffic equally and cannot prioritize some content, like a specific video streaming service, which could give an unfair advantage or disadvantage to some content providers and consumers.

CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement that rather than offering subscribers selected content at different data usage prices, Internet service providers should offer more data at lower prices and give consumers the ability to choose what content they want to consume.

jean pierre blais crtc
Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, addresses the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 in Ottawa. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

The decision comes following hearings held last fall into the practice, known as differential pricing, that stemmed from a complaint about Quebecor-owned Videotron over the way it bills customers for the data they use.

Videotron launched an unlimited music streaming service in August 2015 that allowed its customers to stream music from specific third-party services without it counting against their monthly data cap.

The CRTC ruled that Videotron must ensure this service complies with the new regulations within 90 days.

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