Pelmorex claims Canadian carriers violate wireless Net neutrality

The submissions to the CRTC's network management proceeding are still coming in (more on that shortly), but there is an explosive submission from Pelmorex Media which deserves immediate attention. Pelmorex Media owns the Weather Network, which ranks ahead of every major Canadian online media site for online visitors. The Pelmorex submission includes strong support for net neutrality, but is particularly noteworthy for its emphasis on wireless net neutrality. Pelmorex argues:

It is Pelmorex's submission that the Commission should adopt a more expansive definition of net neutrality and traffic management that would encompass the commercial practices of both wire-line and wireless network operators. In our view, the Commission needs to take steps to ensure that, with respect to both wire-line and wireless network operators, traffic management practices are applied equitably and treat like-traffic in the same or comparable manner. Any management practices that treat certain types of content, particularly content produced or provided by the ISP or network operator, in a preferential or advantageous manner should not be permitted.

Pelmorex is not alone in focusing on wireless issues (Score Media notes that its mobile site traffic now nearly equals its fixed Internet site), but it is noteworthy for including a list of wireless net neutrality violations by Canadian carriers. While the Canadian carriers are not named, the allegations include:

  • wireless reseller blocking ads from a mobile site
  • wireless carriers stripping out tracking codes embedded in web pages, thereby limiting ability to deliver ads
  • wireless carriers establishing “walled gardens” that provide preferential access that reduces data charges for sites within the walled garden
  • forcing users through wireless carrier homepage when accessing the Internet on feature phones
  • prior approval of applications for use on smart phones
  • extra fees for text messages that include ads
  • wireless carriers limiting to whom ads in text messages may be sold

The lack of Canadian competition within the wireless space has been well-documented with respect to text messaging fees and data rates. The Pelmorex submission puts its impact on the business community squarely on the table.

Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.

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