The
CRTC’s examination of Canadian content on the web is overshadowing a
much fiercer debate boiling over in cyber-land.

The
Commission is considering allowing service providers to slow down or
charge additional fees for band-heavy content like videos, a practice
known as throttling. The hearing’s terms
of reference
arise from a complaint against Bell Canada, filed by
the Canadian Association of
Internet Service Providers
. CAIP wants Bell to stop throttling
peer-to-peer file sharing.

Bell
and other large ISPs are expected to argue that the net has reached
capacity and needs constraints for the sake of efficiency.

Netizens
hotly disagree. In response to a
Save Our Net
campaign, over a 10-day period some 3,500 Canadians
sent letters to the CRTC asking for a clear ruling in favour of net
neutrality, defined as equal, affordable access to the Internet for
all. The campaign web site points out the Barack Obama knows what net
neutrality is, and is investing $7.2 billion to protect it.

There’s
a lot at stake, according to the University of Windsor’s Paul D.
Boin, founder of the Media Justice Project. In his Blog
for Media Justice
, Boin writes: “This issue, more than anything
else, is what will determine how, and how democratically, we will
communicate in our 21st Century.”

With
both sides arguing that their point of view will save Canada from
becoming an Internet backwater, the Commission is in for a wild ride.


The
CRTC’s examination of Canadian content on the web is overshadowing a
much fiercer debate boiling over in cyber-land.

The
Commission is considering allowing service providers to slow down or
charge additional fees for band-heavy content like videos, a practice
known as throttling. The hearing’s terms
of reference
arise from a complaint against Bell Canada, filed by
the Canadian Association of
Internet Service Providers
. CAIP wants Bell to stop throttling
peer-to-peer file sharing.

Bell
and other large ISPs are expected to argue that the net has reached
capacity and needs constraints for the sake of efficiency.

Netizens
hotly disagree. In response to a
Save Our Net
campaign, over a 10-day period some 3,500 Canadians
sent letters to the CRTC asking for a clear ruling in favour of net
neutrality, defined as equal, affordable access to the Internet for
all. The campaign web site points out the Barack Obama knows what net
neutrality is, and is investing $7.2 billion to protect it.

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There’s
a lot at stake, according to the University of Windsor’s Paul D.
Boin, founder of the Media Justice Project. In his Blog
for Media Justice
, Boin writes: “This issue, more than anything
else, is what will determine how, and how democratically, we will
communicate in our 21st Century.”

With
both sides arguing that their point of view will save Canada from
becoming an Internet backwater, the Commission is in for a wild ride.

Patricia W. Elliott is a magazine journalist and assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Regina. You can visit her at patriciaelliott.ca.