Calgary Herald

Nucleus approves of CRTC ruling on ISPs

- DINA O’MEARA CALGARY HERALD

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

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 Nucleus.com, 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 Nucleus.com 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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