The CRTC has given Rogers until September 27th to devise a plan to “address and resolve” the communication company’s throttling, either purposeful or accidental, of online video games like Call of Duty: Black Ops.
This controversy started late last month when the special interest group Canadian Gamers Organization (CGO) lodged a compliant against Rogers, claiming that the company slowed the network resources dedicated to online gaming, thereby contravening the CRTC’s own rules governing acceptable network management.
For its part, Rogers has admitted that it mistakenly misclassified online games as non-time sensitive applications, an error that may result in slow connectivity if other such classified peer-to-peer (P2P) applications are running. The bottom line though, mistake or not Rogers has to the end of the month to fix the problem.
According to CBC News, the CRTC letter to Rogers, signed by John Traversey, executive director of communications, “noted that the use of internet traffic management that causes ‘noticeable degradation’ of time-sensitive internet traffic amounts to controlling the content, and therefore requires ‘prior Commission approval.’”
As Rogers’ representatives have explained to us, the company does not throttle its network resources except as they pertain to “P2P file sharing above 80 kbps and there are no limits on download speed for any application or protocol.” The latter is done, the company explains, to ensure network resources are not hogged by such data intensive transfers, which would result in a diminished network experience for all.
The issue here, however, is that online games have been lumped into this P2P category, which has subsequently led to gamers experiencing unacceptably–and not to mention suspiciously–low network speeds. It was back in August when the CGO initially complained about this issue, and in a rare case of government bureaucracy in action, the CRTC has listened, investigated, and is now demanding a solution.
Before everyone gets up in arms against Rogers though, this does in fact seem to be a case of inadvertent network throttling, a mistake caused by the misclassification of online games as a P2P application.
Both Rogers and the CRTC have acknowledged the mistake, and the CRTC has given Rogers till Sept. 27th to develop a solution to the problem and submit a detailed plan to ensure that online gaming traffic cannot be misclassified in this same way in the future, a plan that should include what specific steps the company will take and a timeline for when it plans to take them.
In the end, whether or not you actually care about online gaming and network management, this story is compelling evidence that in some cases at least, federal regulations actually work.