In a telling coincidence (I think), Canadian Press has two net neutrality stories out today. The first is a general piece on network neutrality concerns from a Canadian perspective. Bell Canada is quoted as saying that "our position on network diversity/neutrality is that it should be determined by market forces, not regulation." Several proponents of net neutrality legislation (including me) are also quoted in the piece, warning of the potential for network providers to abuse their position in a market that features limited competition.
As if to prove the point, a second CP story features an interview with Videotron president Robert Depatie, who proceeds to provide yet another example of why net neutrality legislation is needed. Depatie floats the idea of an "Internet transmission tariff", as he calls on the government to levy a tariff on content providers such as the music and film industry for using high-speed networks. Says Depatie:
"If the movie studio were to mail a DVD. . . they would expect to pay postage or courier fees. Why should they not expect a transmission tariff?"
This suggestion represents possibly the most extreme example of how providers might try to charge content creators and e-commerce companies – by obtaining the support of government-backed tariff. An Internet transmission tariff should be a non-starter for the current government. Moreover, Videotron's competitors ought to step forward and reject it as well. In fact, much like Shaw's questionable VoIP surcharge and Telus' blocking of a union-supporting website, Videotron's Internet transmission tariff will go down as yet another example of why the lack of broadband competition raises genuine concerns about the potential for providers to stifle new creativity and innovation. The Telecommunications Policy Review identified this as an issue with a recommendation for a net neutrality provision that should not get lost in Industry Minister's Maxime Bernier's rush to deregulate.