CRTC Closes Gamers File
The Canadian Gamers Organization (CGO) has received word through a public, highly self congratulatory and seemingly politically motivated release from the CRTC championing that a CRTC investigation has stopped Rogers from throttling. CGO warns that ISPs still have the right under CRTC policy to bring throttling back at any time without prior approval. Andrea Rosen the CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer stated: “We are committed to ensuring that Canadians receive good value for the money they spend on communications services,”
CGO has a slightly different view. Lessons need to be learned. We had quite the fight to even get the CRTC to look into this, even after policy changes were made on ITMP complaints last year. To our knowledge our complaint is the only one that made it through to the enforcement division at the CRTC. We think the changes the CRTC has made are only surface changes and that ITMP policy still heavily weighs on the side of the Internet Providers rather than being balanced to ensure value for money.
From beginning to end, the World of Warcarft (WoW) complaint took a year and a half to get to this point. The original filing of the WoW complaint to the CRTC was filed by Sicco Naets, in early 2011 and was closed by the CRTC without investigation, stating Rogers' ITMP doesn't have impact on gaming. The 2nd complaint filed was in Feb 2011 by Teresa Murphy on her own, with communications prior to that with Rogers that stretch back to December 2010. The new ITMP complaint procedures the CRTC put into place in September last year did not speed up the process (in our opinion) as it was intended to do, even with CGO's complaint which took nearly 11 months to reach a conclusion. The burden of proof to prove non-compliance with ITMP policy is still very much on the consumers back.
CGO intervened on Teresa Murphy’s complaint mid-summer 2011. It is in our opinion that the changes the CRTC has made to help speed up the process on throttling complaints are a failure. We are also disheartened to see the CRTC seemingly disregarding its own policies when finding Rogers non-compliant with ITMP policy on 2 separate occasions due to their own independent investigations, yet did not put Rogers on a quarterly ITMP non-compliance list as per their own procedures. No investigation was done by the CRTC to determine how long Rogers was non-compliant with policy. No “value for money” assessment has been done by the CRTC to determine the amount needed to properly compensate Rogers customers for non-compliance. There were closed door meetings with Rogers and the CRTC to discuss non-compliance and the phase out of throttling, with no public communication to Rogers customers as to the company’s plans on how they were going to phase out throttling, or when issues of non-compliance would be fixed. We also did not receive any direct communication with the CRTC prior to their public communication about the closure of our file, which we feel is extremely odd and out of the ordinary.
We also find it odd that the CRTC would close the file while Rogers is still throttling, and still throttling applications and protocols which aren't mentioned as being managed (per their own network management policy). Customers are still experiencing throttling when utilizing the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP - essentially logging into your computer, and using it via another system) - Rogers' systems have essentially played Whack-a-mole with customers. An example is one Rogers customer Teresa has been in contact with. For several days his RDP sessions will work fine, then the next day suddenly disconnect like crazy. Switching connection ports allows him to connect again, and repeat the entire process all over again. He has attempted to escalate his issues internally at Rogers (per a Rogers employee recommending he escalate internally, vs going to the CRTC), and his complaint is now stuck at the Office of the President at Rogers, going absolutely nowhere. He was planning on making an ITMP complaint, however, we don't see a point in that, as the CRTC will just close it, as Rogers has 'promised' to end throttling by the end of the year. That's still another 6 months of users being unable to utilize applications and other affected games without having to attempt to bypass Rogers' faulty systems.
Lastly, throttling is only one aspect of ITMP that Canadian gamers are affected by when it comes to our Internet services. The excessively low data caps implemented, championed, promoted, and approved by the CRTC are creating problems due to game developers developing digital only, always on internet, and cloud platforms. This limits the ability to purchase any digital media or product. It also limits the use of purchased products and limits the expansion of a very big and important part of our economy outside the gaming industry.
Currently the US Department of Justice is investigating ISP’s in the US under anti-trust laws due to the use and abuse of usage based billing. It’s worthy to note that data caps in the US are far more generous than they are in Canada, and Rogers lowered their caps shortly after Netflix announced its entry into the Canadian market. After our experience with the CRTC, we don’t expect any future changes to ITMP policy at the CRTC level to be meaningful or credible without political leadership, and possible legislation to ensure a balance of interests. Only then can Canadian consumers be confident that they are receiving value for money not only from communication products they buy, but from the regulator they pay through tax dollars to ensure a balance exists. It's time the Canadian Government steps up to the plate, and secures our digital future!