Nu­cleus ap­proves of CRTC rul­ing on ISPs


A rul­ing on how Canada’s big­gest In­ter­net ser­vice providers man­age cus­tomers’ data flow has been ap­plauded by Cal­gary’s pi­o­neer­ing in­de­pen­dent ISP, Nu­

The city-based busi­ness, launched in 1993, said the or­der that ISPs have to no­tify cus­tomers be­fore re­duc­ing ac­cess to their net­work sys­tems to man­age traf­fic flow was a pos­i­tive step for all clients de­pen­dent on providers such as Shaw, Bell Canada and Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“Right now (the Al­berta providers) haven’t done any­thing, but ob­vi­ously they were a part of this in that they be­lieve they should have the abil­ity to do it,” said Dave Berzins, Nu­cleus pres­i­dent.

In Wed­nes­day’s rul­ing by the Cana­dian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, the reg­u­la­tor said large ISPs may only “throt­tle” — the act of lim­it­ing the amount of broad­band cer­tain cus­tomers can ac­cess — “as a last re­sort.”

Whole­sale cus­tomers in Al­berta, such as Nu­, have not been sub­jected to Telus or Shaw throt­tling the amount of broad­band they could ac­cess, but have seen it hap­pen to peers in the East and had been con­cerned by the trend, said Berzins.

“The de­ci­sion af­fects us in a pos­i­tive way be­cause — and again Telus has not ever done it to us — but if they were think­ing of do­ing it, this gives us some guide­lines to go around,” he added.

Nu­cleus be­lieves in “net neu­tral­ity” and doesn’t limit its cus­tomers’ ac­cess, al­though it does man­age its net­work by tracking client use and no­ti­fy­ing them of sus­pi­ciously high band­width us­age, he said.

More than 80 per cent of high traf­fic noted by Nu­ is the re­sult of com­puter viruses hi­jack­ing e-mail lists from un­sus­pect­ing clients to spam other users, Berzins said.

The CRTC rul­ing, which comes in the wake of ex­ten­sive hear­ings this past sum­mer, stated large ISPs must give re­tail cus­tomers 30 days no­tice be­fore any new “traf­fic man­age­ment prac­tice” takes ef­fect.

Whole­sale users, which may in­clude smaller client In­ter­net ser­vice providers that ef­fec­tively rent net­work space from the big ISPs, must be given 60 days no­tice, the CRTC said. Those client ISPs have charged that the larger net­work car­ri­ers give their home ser­vice pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.

How­ever, Berzins ac­knowl­edged the larger ser­vice providers also shoul­der the costs of main­tain­ing and up­grad­ing the sys­tems while the amount of data be­ing trans­ferred — and band­width oc­cu­pied — grows larger and larger.

The CRTC said large net­work own­ers should use eco­nomic mea­sures be­fore re­sort­ing to tech­ni­cal means, or throt­tling, to con­trol the grow­ing flow of traf­fic on­line.

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