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CRTC: 75 complaints of Internet throttling in 2012

CRTC chairman Jean Pierre Blais, seen here on Oct. 18 commenting on his BCE-Astral ruling.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

The CRTC says it received 75 "throttling" complaints last year against Internet service providers.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission oversees how companies sometimes limit or "throttle" traffic to manage their networks.

From the user's perspective, the practice can cause slower download speeds or jerky video streaming.

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The regulator says there were 11 active complaints as of Dec. 31.

Non-profit advocacy organization OpenMedia.ca says the onus is on the consumer to report any traffic throttling.

However, spokeswoman Lindsey Pinto complains that the process can be lengthy and complicated.

"The CRTC doesn't really have strong compliance or enforcement on this so it's kind of up to the consumer to report to the CRTC when they see discriminatory practices taking place," Ms. Pinto said.

"We're going to continue to see problems until some kind of enforcement regime is put into place," she added.

The CRTC said that if an Internet service provider fails to respond to a complaint about traffic management or doesn't comply with CRTC guidelines on compliance, the regulator can take action.

The CRTC has said this can include meeting with the ISP to discuss a complaint in more detail, requesting an on-site inspection or independent third-party audit, or calling the ISP to a public hearing.

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If the CRTC finds that an ISP is not in compliance with the policy, it will publish the company's name and the nature of the complaint.

Pinto said traffic throttling is largely done by the big telecom companies that provide Internet service.

In one well-known example, the Canadian Gamers Organization complained that Rogers Communications had been slowing traffic related to online games, which the company eventually admitted.

But last June, the CRTC said it was confident that Rogers had ceased slowing Internet gaming activities on its network.

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