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CRTC goes full-Internet with #EndDataCaps Reddit consultation

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In an exciting move to meet Canadians where they're at, the CRTC has opened a consultation on Reddit, the often-irreverent discussion site, on the future of Canada's Internet.  

Our federal telecom decision-maker is asking Canadian redditors to weigh in on "differential pricing" (a.k.a. zero-rating) -- the practice where telcos strike backroom deals to make certain apps data-free to use, but not others, while imposing ridiculously low data caps to force you into their "preferred" services.

For years, OpenMedia and our community members have been calling on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to open up their processes to everyday Canadians. This Reddit consultation points to a changing, more open CRTC which is not only willing, but actively trying, to engage real Canadians where they are: the Internet!  

The thread, their first-foray into this type of community consultation, is an awesome chance to encourage this type of engagement in the future, while weighing in about differential pricing and the shape Canada's Internet takes.  

You have until end of day Friday, September 30 to weigh in -- and the CRTC is even including the comments on the public record for the hearing.

Head over to check out the thread now. We encourage you to go beyond lurking and post what you think should be the future of CRTC policy on differential pricing. Your voice, and putting it onto the official record, matters.

At OpenMedia, we've been working for months to ensure that Internet users are heard on this issue. Some of our work, informed by our community (thank you!), can be found in the two interventions we've submitted to the CRTC. TL;DR versions here: June 28, and here: September 21. (For the very committed, submissions from all parties can be found here.)

We've also gone for the Big Ask and are calling on the CRTC to abolish data caps. Without restrictive caps there is no incentive for Internet providers to price content differently in the first place --and already 42,000 Canadians have gone on the public record supporting us by endorsing our stance, and adding their own comments to the public record through OpenMedia's tool. Check out what the more than 5,000 have told the commission.

Want more info? Here are the arguments central to our work on zero-rating and data caps:

  • Differential pricing (or zero-rating) seriously limits choice and stifles competition on the Internet: The next Reddit or Twitter would likely never get off the ground in a world with zero-rating. Our community believes the Internet should be a level playing field for innovative new ideas.

  • CANADIANS ARE TRAPPED BY DATA CAPS: On wired Internet, data caps in most of the world are unheard of. For wireless, caps in other nations are far more reasonable than those in Canada. Too many of us are struggling with data caps every month.

  • THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "TOO MUCH INTERNET," given how essential online access has become to our everyday lives. If we don’t tackle this now, Canada will fall even further behind.

  • USERS, NOT TELECOM COMPANIES, SHOULD DECIDE WHICH SERVICES WE USE ONLINE: Telecom giants should not be permitted to zero-rate data, and make websites they don't like more expensive to access.

  • WE NEED TRANSPARENCY AND STRONG ENFORCEMENT to ensure telcos stick by the rules, and face penalties when those rules are broken. We believe that data plans should be easy to understand, and that when telecom providers break the rules there should be consequences.

The more voices we have on the record, the more likely we'll be able to end data caps once and for all. Follow and engage in the Reddit discussion here.  

If you're looking for more ways to get involved, you can also endorse our letter to the CRTC here or donate to our ongoing campaign here.

 

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