Videotron Defends Music Service Accused of Violating Net Neutrality

Videotron’s Unlimited Music service for mobile subscribers launched in late August and since then it has been accused of violating net neutrality, as data used does not count against customer data buckets.

Yesterday, we heard how Rogers criticized Videotron’s service as violating net neutrality and today, we have learned the latter’s response to widespread criticism received, according to a filing response made Wednesday, according to The Globe and Mail:

“In the present case, Videotron is being accused of everything from blocking competition in the music streaming business, to trying to control access to music content, to creating a two-tiered Internet, to trying to marginalize a part of its own customer base,” the company said, adding, “The truth is much less conspiratorial.

Videotron added its music offering, along with wireless services, attracts the key demographic of 14-34 year olds and noted it had “found an attractive and innovative way to broaden that appeal.”

Other organizations have also opposed Videotron’s music service, such as a group of Canadian radio operators with online music streams; Eastlink Wireless; and Benjamin Klass (he started the mobile TV challenge), all filing interventions with the CRTC.

The Quebec-based carrier does have some supporters though. TELUS filed to the CRTC saying “offering consumers differentiated services in order to entice them to subscribe to a rate plan is normal in competitive markets where different groups of customers pay different prices depending on their demand for services.”

Meanwhile the The Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC), which represents independent ISPs, similarly supported Videotron, noting in its filing providers should be able to “freely package services in innovative ways that respond to market trends and consumer demand.” However, CNOC did not support Videotron’s move to have music services opt-in, as net neutrality advocates say this favours small groups able to participate and excludes others.

Videotron, which has 700,000 wireless subscribers, will soon be sent a list of requests from the CRTC for more information on its music service, while also accept final filings from participants, with the submission deadline not set yet.

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  • kkritsilas

    Videotron can term this any which way they want, but the major point is that they are sending out services that don’t count against the data caps of their customers, while people who don’t use the music service are getting charged (through the nose, mind you) for the same amount of data. This is exactly what net neutrality is about; all data is the same, no matter what source, and should be charged the same way.

    They can term it any way they want, but their music service is getting preferrential treatment over Apple Music, Google Play music, Amazon music, Spotify, Rdio, or any other streaming music (or media in general) service. All services that are not Videotron’s music service take a data cap hit.

  • Jean B.

    Vidéotron does not prefer its own services, as it does NOT own a streaming service (contrary to what you are stating).
    I would do my research before commenting next time.

  • kkritsilas

    What I meant by “their music service” was the music service that they are bundling in and not charging data for. The point still stands. They are showing preferential treatment to one music service over others. That gives the music service an unfair advantage; i.e. use the bundled Videotron service (owned or not by Videotron, really doesn’t matter) and you don’t get charged for music streaming on it. Use anybody else’s streaming service, and you get charged data for it.

    As for doing my research, it isn’t matter of doing my research, as it is a matter of how I described it. Your reading comprehension could use some improvement as well for not reading and understanding my point regarding net neutrality.

  • Jean B.

    Well, you had obviously described it wrong (its ok, it have my ego days also).

    Their program states they add all “legal” streaming services to their program, so I don’t see how “preferential treatment to one music service over others”(your words) could stand as an argument. The streaming service that feels discriminated could simply be added to the Videotron program at no cost.

    Or maybe I simply don’t see it the same way as you do.

  • kkritsilas

    All of the music streaming (Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Rdio, etc.) services are “legal” in that they don’t break copyright.

    Unless they are actually allowing a free choice in which music streaming service the end user can have, and include ALL of the major music streaming companies, then there is an issue.

    There is also the more general issue of why can I stream 20GB of music per month without getting charged anything more than my $X (X being the cost of the music streaming service), yet I have to pay $300 (just a number to make a point) to get that same amount of data when I am cruising the web, downloading email, etc.? Same data, pretty much the same data rate, the exact same tower and infrastructure equipment, etc, and it even comes from the same company.

  • Jean B.

    Thats exactly what I am saying, Vidéotron IS adding ALL the major music streaming companies (they already support Google Musis, Spotify, Songza, 8tracks and others).

  • kkritsilas

    They may or may not be offering all the services. They do have the “Several other applications will be added shortly” escape clause on their web site. I can see that Pandora (probably one of the biggest, if not THE biggest music streaming companies), and Rhapsody are missing, Will they add them? Anybody’s guess. Do they currently offer ALL major music streaming services? NO, Pandora and Rhapsody are missing. I take it now that you won’t have any issue with my posting.

    The general point about why I am getting not charged for music streaming data, yet being charged for every other kind of data still stands, and it is the heart of the issue. This is why the CRTC will end up disallowing this, not because of the choice of music streaming services, but because data was not being charged for.

  • Jean B.

    “Escape clauses” as you call them have nothing to do with this subject.

    Are Pandora and Rhapsody “legal” streaming services? I imagine they are. What makes you think they will not be added to the offer? You can’t give someone else bad intensions without proving them. They have added 3 new services in the past weeks, i don’t see why they’d stop now.

    “This is why the CRTC will end up disallowing this, not because of the choice of music streaming services, but because data was not being charged for.”

    You obviously have some inherent knowledge on the CRTC on this issue. Please cite the decision that prevents not charging data for this specific case.

  • kkritsilas

    I don’t know that they won’t offer Pandora or Rhapsody. I do know they don’t offer them now, which is why I said “currently”. Please let us know that you know for a fact that they will for sure.

    As for Pandora and Rhapsody being “legal”, you must be joking, right? Pandora is traded on the New York Stock exchange, and had $139M in revenue, has 200 million users, and 70 million users tune in regularly. How much more legal to you need? They were the first music streaming service.

    Rhapsody started in 2001. They have 750,000 subscribers. Do you need me to go on?

    Both of them are a lot more established than say, 8track, one of the services offered by Videotron.

    I don’t have inherent knowledge of the CRTC, I just understand the rulings they passed on Rogers and Bell. The same principle will apply. The CRTC ruled on net neutrality, not on who owned the service they were streaming. The same ruling which I expect that will be passed on Videotron. The CRTC wants data to be charged fairly. Net neutrality means that all data, whether it be Roger’s hockey broadcasts, Bell’s streaming TV, Videotron’s music streaming, or an end user’s web browsing, gets charged equally. Videotron’s music streaming, by not charging for data, violates this. To repeat:

    “This is why the CRTC will end up disallowing this, not because of the choice of music streaming services, but because data was not being charged for.”

    Rogers is protesting because of this, and they know as well as anybody what the CRTC ruling was, and what it contains.