CRTC Directs Videotron to Comply with Telecommunications Act

  • June 01, 2017
  • Michael House

In a decision released April 20, 2017, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) concluded that Quebecor Media Inc, Videotron Ltd, and Videotron GP (collectively, Videotron) gave an undue preference to subscribers who accessed the Unlimited Music program and to service providers whose services are included in that program, in contravention of section 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act (the Act).

Videotron’s Unlimited Music service gave some of its mobile customers access to a music streaming service that did not count toward the subscribers’ data cap included in their mobile plans. Specifically, the Unlimited Music service allowed subscribers to stream music without facing any data charges through specific music streaming providers that had signed an agreement with Videotron (an Unlimited Music Agreement).

The CRTC concluded that the Unlimited Music program gave an undue preference to customers who were eligible for the program, and subjected ineligible customers to an unreasonable disadvantage. The CRTC also concluded that an undue preference was given to the service providers that had entered into an Unlimited Music Agreement, as compared to other service providers, including those that provided substantially similar services, such as Internet radio stations. These conclusions were based in part on the finding that certain Videotron customers and service providers were ineligible for participation in the Unlimited Music program as a result of the program’s technical criteria.

The CRTC directed Videotron to bring itself into compliance with the Act by July 19, 2017. The CRTC also directed Videotron to report to the Commission when and how it brings itself into compliance with the Act.

Some commentators view this decision as the CRTC defending the principle that Internet service providers and Internet regulators should treat all data equally, and not give preference to certain types of data or website providers, otherwise known as net neutrality.

About the author

Michael House is an associate with Deeth Williams Wall.  He practises intellectual property and information technology law, with a focus on patent litigation, trademark prosecution, technology licensing agreements and privacy compliance. 

This article was originally published by the OBA Information Technology & Intellectual Property Law Section

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