While the early focus of the CRTC New Media hearings are unsurprisingly focused on levies and regulation, an important additional issue is quickly emerging. CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein tried to set the stage for the hearings by noting that they are limited strictly to new media broadcasting. He then followed with a question to Alain Pinot of the CCA in which he stated that he does not see the relationship between this hearing and the network management hearing. Von Finckenstein's comments come on the heels of the comment from Rogers over the weekend that they run a "dumb pipe" with respect to content.
It seems to me that the comments are related as they present a vision that puts content in one box (new media hearings and the Rogers dumb pipe) and network management in another (net neutrality hearings and a smart pipe/traffic shaping). I think this is wrong and points to key question. To use Rogers' terminology – can an ISP that engages in active network management but does not directly filter content be said to run both a smart pipe (the network management) and a dumb pipe (for content)?
I think the answer is no – current network management necessarily leaks into content and cannot be said to be a dumb pipe.