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In Canada traffic management has been allowed since October 2009 by the federal telecom regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, but only under certain conditions. First, the policies must be neutral and cannot be "unjustly discriminatory nor unduly preferential," a standard set in federal law for all telecommunications. Second, traffic management policies have to be made clear to consumers and wholesale buyers of access. In addition, the regulator has to approve traffic management policies that are more restrictive on a service provider's wholesale purchasers than to its retail customers. Third, the slowing of time-sensitive data (such as live video or VoIP [voice over Internet Protocol] traffic) cannot be done without regulator approval. Generally, the commission said traffic management policies must be "designed to address a defined need, and nothing more."
So far no ISP has challenged the commission's ruling.
The Canadian rules apply only to wireline service. The commission is expected to decide this year whether it has the authority to regulate over mobile wireless data services, and, if it does, whether it will apply the same policy to wireless.
(Howard Solomon of NetworkWorld Canada contributed to this story.)