After a steady stream of complaints from consumers over bandwidth throttling, the CRTC this week issued guidelines on how it will deal with Canadian consumer's who complain about bandwidth throttling by their Internet service providers (ISPs).

"The policy sets out clear ground rules, which we expect all ISPs to follow," said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC.

While the idea of the CRTC clamping down on companies who engage in egregious cases of bandwidth throttling is laudatory, the truth is the complaint process is so onerous and so time consuming that it is unlikely many Canadians will even bother. Furthermore , if after a lengthy complaint process the ISP is found guilty, there are no fines or penalties which can only lead to consumers asking “Why Bother?”

Under the new rules , the CRTC reasonably requires the consumer first contact their ISP to resolve any complaint. If that fails, users can then contact the CRTC and in detail explain: what part of the Telecom Regulatory Policy the ISP has violated; when the problem occurred and whether it is a recurring problem; what application was affected; and how the application was affected.

Assuming the user manages to figure out what specific code in Telecom Regulatory Policy and meet the submission process, the CRTC will then evaluate the submission. If it deems the complaint worthy, the federal regulator will send the complaint over to the ISP within 15 days of the consumer complaint. After the ISP receives the complaint from the CRTC, they have an additional twenty days to respond.

At the end of this process, if the CRTC deems that an ISP is not in compliance with the policy, it will publish the company's name and the nature of the complaint. In addition, the CRTC will publish, four times a year, a summary of the number and types of complaints it has received, including the number that have been resolved and those that are still under investigation.

In summary, a consumer who has had his service unfairly throttled will need to engage in a laborious reporting process, then wait possibly over a month for a response and finally if the ISP is found guilty, they will have their name published.

It leaves this website scratching its head over what is being done at CRTC headquarters. Clearly this policy is all bark and no bite. If the federal regulator really wanted to protect consumers, they would start issuing million dollar fines for illegal bandwidth throttling, not just publish their names in a CRTC naughty list.

Consumers still wanting to take the time can to file a complaint can do so by following the CRTC instructions here .

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