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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.