Canada takes a stand for net neutrality — strikes down unlimited music plan


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Sarah Tew/CNET

Yesterday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled against a Canadian wireless carrier’s plan to offer “unlimited music” to its customers.

The decision specifically targets the Unlimited Music Service of Videotron, the telecommunications unit of Canadian wireless carrier Quebecor. The CRTC gave Videotron 90 days to bring its plan into compliance.

The unlimited music service allowed customers to stream content without using data — provided customers were streaming from certain services. The CRTC’s ruling asserts that by offering this “zero-rating” to certain streaming companies, Videotron puts smaller streaming companies and some customers at a disadvantage.

As Ajit Pai, the Republican chair of the US Federal Communications Commission, looks to roll back net neutrality rules, the Canadian government’s decision cites the need to avoid pricing and plans that give unfair advantages to some consumers or content providers.

“Rather than offering its subscribers selected content at different data usage prices, Internet service providers should be offering more data at lower prices,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO of the CRTC in an online statement. “That way, subscribers can choose for themselves what content they want to consume.”

Videotron responded with their own statement, saying the company was “disappointed by the decision” and assuring customers that the Unlimited Music service will be “maintained until further notice.”

Videotron did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for a statement.

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