Almost four years after Bell Canada started throttling traffic of its Sympatico Internet customers, the telecom carrier has promised to stop the controversial practice in March, 2011.
Owned by BCE Inc., Bell said in a letter Monday to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that while the slowing of certain peer-to-peer traffic was necessary in 2008 to ensure all customers were getting adaquate speeds, upgrades to network capacity means it's not longer important.
The decision, it said, is a direct outcome of last month's CRTC decision allowing Bell and other wholesale providers of Internet connectivity to offer capacity-based billing to independent Internet service providers (ISPs).
The capacity-related rate schedule ties wholesale rates to the amount of capacity customers use. In theory, those who use more pay more.
So ends — for the time being at least — a controversial act by Bell. It caused an uproar when it asked CRTC to allow throttling of traffic not only to its own customers but also to subscribers of independent Internet service providers who buy wholesale connectivity from it.
Throttling is called by the CRTC an economic “Internet traffic management practice” (sometimes called traffic shaping) which it allowed in 2009 under certain conditions. ISPs have always felt that Bell [TSX:BCE] had no right to impose traffic management on them, or that it is necessary. But Bell said it needed throttling as an economic disincentive to subscribers who could abuse their ability to download unlimited amounts of videos, games and other large data files.
Bell hopes capacity-based billing will mean ISPs set rates that will be the disincentive to abuse.
Those wholesale rates are set to come into effect in February. However, some ISPs unhappy with the capacity decision may appeal.