CRTC seeks comments regarding neutrality of Internet data pricing plans

    May 18, 2016

    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it is examining differential pricing practices related to wireline and wireless data plans. The CRTC's review will include a public hearing starting on October 31, 2016, in the National Capital Region.

    Differential pricing occurs when the same or a similar product or service is offered to customers at different prices. An example is when an Internet service provider exempts a particular application, such as a music or video streaming service, or a set of applications, from data charges.

    Canadians are invited to submit their comments on the following questions:

    - How should differential pricing practices be defined in relation to the provision of Internet data plans over wireline and wireless networks?
    - What are the benefits and concerns about these practices, and do these concerns outweigh the benefits as to justify regulatory intervention?
    - What regulatory measures, if any, should the CRTC implement?

    The CRTC is accepting comments until June 17, 2016. Canadians can participate by:

    - filling out the online form,
    - writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A ON2, or
    - sending a fax to 819-994-0218.

    The CRTC is looking at this issue following the receipt of applications regarding Videotron's Unlimited Music service, which exempts several music streaming services from data charges under certain mobile plans. The CRTC will rule on the Unlimited Music service on the basis of the broader record on differential pricing practices.

    Quick Facts

    The CRTC will hold a public hearing to examine differential pricing practices related to Internet data pricing plans.
    Differential pricing practices can be applied to both wireline and mobile wireless data plans.
    The CRTC will develop a clear and transparent regulatory approach to provide greater certainty to consumers, application providers and Internet service providers.
    Comments received regarding Videotron's Unlimited Music service will be added to the public record of the consultation launched today.
    Differential pricing practices are a growing global trend that some regulators in other countries have examined or are currently examining.

    "Differential pricing is emerging in Canada and elsewhere as a more common practice. Service providers appear to be attempting to distinguish their services and attract customers through such practices. This consultation will enable us to better understand the potential benefits and risks to consumers, application providers and Internet service providers. Our aim is to develop a clear and transparent regulatory approach that will provide certainty. The CRTC, like other regulatory agencies in other jurisdictions, continues to be concerned about the impact of such practices on net neutrality."

    Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO, CRTC