Canadian ISPs say identifying traffic is inevitable, no, wait, impossible

Michael Geist sez,

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hosts long-awaited network management hearings this week, pitting Canada's telecom and cable companies against a broad range of consumer, creator, and technology groups in a fight that may help clarify whether Canada has – or should have – net neutrality laws.

My weekly column notes that as the Commission weighs the various claims, it would do well to consider the testimony it heard just a few months ago during the February new media hearings.

For example, Shaw Communications's network management submission states "traffic management is necessary to ensure that Shaw's customers continue to have access to fast, reliable and affordable service." It adds the "traffic shaping process uses deep packet inspection (DPI) technology to identify packets that are associated with P2P file-sharing applications and to slow those packets down, limiting the amount of available capacity P2P traffic consumes."

Yet when CEO Jim Shaw was asked about the prospect of identifying traffic during the new media hearings, he told the Commission, "we can only tell you how many bits are coming in or out. We don't know what kind of bit it is. It could be anything from an e-mail to a porno. We don't know that. We spend no time trying to figure out what bits are going to your house. We just don't know."

Perhaps foreshadowing the outcome of the net neutrality hearing, MTS Allstream acknowledged "when a commercial interest attempts to violate the principle of openness, as it is defined by the open culture movement, there tends to be a very dramatic and forceful rebuking."

CRTC Net Neutrality Hearings Open Amid ISPs' Conflicting Claims

(Thanks, Michael!)