The CRTC has to date largely avoided the net neutrality issue, however, that is about to change. The Canadian Association of Internet Providers, Canada's largest ISP association, has filed a Part VII application with the CRTC asking it to direct Bell Canada to cease and desist from throttling its wholesale Internet service. The application, which was filed late yesterday and is not yet posted on the CRTC site, is the most significant legal development in the Canadian net neutrality debate yet since it places the issue squarely before the Commission. The filing provides additional insights into Bell's action – the throttling has reduced speeds by as much as 90 percent – and marks an important milestone since the outcome will provide a clear answer on whether Canadian law currently protects net neutrality or if legislative reform is needed.
The application notes that "Bell's traffic shaping measures have impaired the speed and performance of the wholesale ADSL access services that it provides to independent ISPs and other competitors, to the point where the quality of the service has been degraded beyond recognition." CAIP adds that the throttling is making it impossible for the independent ISPs to manage their networks and forcing them to pay for bandwidth they cannot use. In light of these effects, CAIP says "it seeks to restrain anti-competitive behaviour on the part of Bell. Thus, the relief requested. . . is intended to 'ensure the technological and competitive neutrality' of the interconnection and and wholesale services provided by Bell to independent ISPs and to promote competition from new technologies that are enabled by the Internet and ADSL access technology." CAIP is therefore asking for an order, issued on an urgent and expedited basis, "directing Bell Canada to immediately cease and desist from using any technologies to "shape", "throttle" and/or "choke" its wholesale ADSL services."