Bell Canada hands Net Neutrality advocates a gift!


Bell Canada Associate Director of Media Relations Jason Laszlo made a real boner move, boasting on Facebook of his ability to snow journalists with his network management bafflegab, referring to journalists as “lemmings” in a recent status update. [DIGG] Clearly a super-fun guy in real life (note colourful hat and armband tattoo), he further demonstrated the Bell Media Relations department’s apparent unfamiliarity with modern web tools by leaving his Facebook profile wide-open to the public to see. Oops. [UPDATE: Profile is closed now.]

 The blogosphere, 3rd party DSL providers, regular users, technology developers, net neutrality advocates and public sector employees unions have suddenly woken up. This is all thanks to Bell’s politically stupid move to throttle third party DSL providers P2P traffic. The silent, simmering battle is now finally out in the open. Thanks to the indominatable Michael Geist for keeping the embers alive.

How bad is it about to get for Bell and other monopoly last-mile providers in this PR and regulatory battle? Very bad. It’s a perfect storm of factors:

  1. CBC was receiving raves for distributing “Canada’s Next Prime Minister” on Bittorrent file-sharing networks, being recognized as an innovator(!) in digital content distribution. CBC’s move effectively killed the argument that bandwidth throttling of P2P traffic only affects pirates.
  2. Bell Canada’s wholesale customers are now mobilized against it, into lawsuits and advocacy efforts. TekSavvy, Ontario’s technology community’s preferred DSL provider is leading the charge.
  3. The National Union of Public and General Employees (340,000 members strong) has taken on the issue with a letter to the CRTC accompanying a report it produced on the subject of network neutrality.
  4. The F2C: Freedom to Connect conference is happening Monday and Tuesday in Washington DC. This will raise the profile of the net neutrality issue in general, as well as many of the other implications of citizen journalism, human rights and beyond. At the ICE08 after-party there was talk of bringing this conference to Ottawa too.
  5. The technology developer and startup communities in Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are frustrated with the state of broadband in Canada and can be mobilized to action in ways that will bring the investment community along with them. Anti-competitive broadband policies inhibit innovation and startup growth.
  6. The U.S. is making moves to open up the debate on net neutrality legislation. Barack Obama’s technology policy supports network neutrality unequivocally.

Watch this space.

19 thoughts on “Bell Canada hands Net Neutrality advocates a gift!”

  1. it is a perfect storm and we the people are mobilized and ready to take action. the momentum is encouraging for anyone who may have felt helpless to make a difference.

    time to take back our Internet.

    use the Internet to save the Internet.

  2. Goooo Teksavvy! I’ve been considerign switching to those guys (from Rogers) for a while now, and while the whole Bell situation is kind of a bummer, their reaction is helping to solidify my decision.

  3. Mark, thanks for posting this good list of references for this issue. Up until it was mentioned on the torcamp email list, I had no idea this was happening. I am a Bell business ADSL subscriber ($250/month) and I am now happily investigating other providers such as TekSavvy. I, like many others have horror stories about dealing with Bell, and I guess for me this is the final straw.

  4. I’m confused. Unless I’ve missed something, TekSavvy’s website lists DSL services (both residential and business) only over non-Bell network operators. Yet Bell throttling is an issue. Can someone knowledgeable explain how all this stuff works? Thanks!

  5. Rohan – someone who knows the tech better may correct me here. As I understand it Teksavvy rents the copper connection to the homes of their DSL customers from Bell, as they’re the only people who own copper. So although Teksavvy do run all of their backbone traffic over non-Bell operators there is still a part of the network that Bell controls and that’s where the unwanted P2P throttling is taking place.

  6. Well, it was only a matter of time, after all just last month the Japanese were presenting their findings on overall Internet traffic and announced that the 4 main ISP’s had throttled P2P traffic and there are similar proposals being floated around in the UK and France…

    In Canada there is No Doubt that the carriers have been overselling their bandwidth for a long time and I agree that this needs to be addressed. CRTC???

    Legitimate file sharing traffic using Peer 2 Peer does exist and one great example is a Canadian start-up, Their premise is the “Private Internet”, it may sound a bit hokey but I have to say I am a big fan. I can share our personal photos and videos with my friends and family and don’t have to waste time uploading and sharing from a third party site.

    With 2Peer I can share privately from my computer with people I authorize utilizing a peer to peer framework. This way I don’t have to worry about pedophiles, stalkers, and so on looking at my personal family pictures or videos. Just look at the invasion of privacy issues with Facebook and MySpace in the past couple months…

    So I guess I should be getting my refund cheque in the mail since my bandwidth is going to be throttled because I use software that is P2P based. Nothing like hindering a Canadian start-up at the same time, way to go Bell!

    Lesson learned from Jason Laszlo is that you may want to check out your privacy settings before you make comments in a open world or get a service that is private like

  7. I’ve been a very happy teksavvy customer for years and am absolutely thrilled to support them now. I started out with them because they were local and a good deal compared to what else was available then. I stay because the customer service is great and so is my connection.

  8. So, let me get this straight; the Canadian consumer is taking orders concerning what they can and can’t download from a company that hires an Associate Director of Media Relations who takes pictures of himself wearing a parrots butt as a headdress? Controlling the internet is wrong, letting these guys control it is just stupid.
    Take action.

  9. New World Order is slowly moving everyone to internet 2. This will totally control all information moving over the internet. Throttling issues, limited bandwidth, antiquated infrastructure, is the problems they have created.
    The solution they have is already built, with tax payer money I might add. Internet 2 will be total censorship as well as controlling your private information, but you will be able to download mind numbing entertainment with ease. Wake up!

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