Reddit Overwhelms CRTC Discussion on Banning Differential Data Pricing

Turning to Reddit for customer input regarding the controversial zero-rating or differential pricing of carriers was a success, the telecom regulator has concluded. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wanted to hear what Canadians thought about this matter, and the message seems to be clear: they want differential pricing banned.

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Zero-rating is the telecoms’ practice of charging different prices for different types of data traffic or exempting some data – think music streaming – from charges altogether, details the Financial Post.

Using Reddit for the first time turned out to be successful: More than 1,180 users commented during the five-day session, and those comments will be part of the traditional consultation that ends with a five-day public hearing this month. The number of comments was unusually high compared to the customer input received so far through the CRTC’s website.

Reddit users reacted to the regulator’s request for comments by calling for an end to data caps, and the majority of commenters opposed differential pricing, due to concerns that it flouts the principle of net neutrality where all traffic is treated equally, and that it could lead to price hikes. Their argument is that carriers should compete on speed, not volume.

“While we can’t comment on the substance of the comments received as the process is ongoing, we are very happy that many Canadians took this opportunity to make their opinions count,” CRTC spokeswoman Patricia Valladao wrote in an email.

The practice entered the spotlight when Quebecor’s Videotron started offering wireless plans with unlimited music streaming. A Nanos poll of 1,000 Canadians commissioned by Bell showed that the majority of Canadians “support” or “somewhat support” unlimited access to music or video streaming services without data charges.

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  • shinratdr

    I’m honestly kinda split on this one… I mean I know that fundamentally the answer is clear; doing this violates net neutrality.

    On the other hand, I’d prefer it in my plan rather than not. We’re never getting unlimited data back on mobile, so this is at least something, and most of my mobile data is used by streaming.

    Honestly I’d rather that data caps were forced higher. 500MB is a ridiculous floor in the year 2016. Mandate like 2GB for $20 and then let carriers duke it out over the higher tiers. Maybe build in increases like the minimum wage, where it increases every year automatically for 5 years.

  • SV650

    Wow! Talk about selection bias. As a group of technology aficionados about a telecommunications topic, then extrapolate those findings to be representative of the general public.

  • swotam

    You mean, something good actually came from a conversation on Reddit? Incredible!

  • swotam

    They asked people to discuss this on Reddit, it doesn’t say they didn’t use any other methods of receiving feedback, just that they used Reddit as a means to obtain feedback for the first time.

  • swotam

    If the CRTC doesn’t step in and put an end to this it’s just going to get worse. The carriers will make it look appealing in the beginning, and then once they’ve got you in their smarmy little claws they’ll start making it more and more draconian just because they can. What today is “free music streaming” tomorrow becomes “free music streaming but only when it’s the service we own / make a business deal with”.

    The stupid low caps are a major problem, which is why I’m hanging on to my $30/6GB from 2008 for dear life. The carriers need to stop trying to use cellular data as a way to overcome loss of cable TV revenue. Some of these data package prices these days are absolutely ludicrous. They do not have capacity issues, so they’re just screwing people over because they can.

  • Joanne

    I’m with you! I got into Wind Mobile back when they offered unlimited everything for $30 a month. I don’t see myself letting go of that any time soon anyway, but especially not now that they’ve instituted a 5GB cap on the plan they have now for the same price. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never actually even come close to hitting that data ceiling because I tend to download my media on WiFi anyway, but it’s the principle of the thing!