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.