Canada failing to ensure access to broadband coverage and to protect network neutrality
Ottawa (3 August 2007) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) - one of Canada's largest trade unions - is calling on the federal government for action to expand broadband Internet access and to ensure network neutrality.
"We have been following developments in the sector for a while and have become increasingly concerned with the degree to which Canada is falling behind in both ensuring access to broadband coverage and in protecting consumers through network neutrality," said NUPGE president James Clancy.
At the National Union's recent convention a background paper was presented to the delegates. Entitled The Internet: accessibility and net neutrality, the paper makes a strong case for the need for government action to expand access and protect consumers against the development of a two-tier Internet.
"Access to broadband Internet service is becoming yet another feature distinguishing between the haves and have-nots in Canada and around the world," said Clancy.
"Disparities in access within Canada mean that some communities are being left behind. The differences between rich and poor, urban and rural, southern and northern communities are quite worrisome. Some children in this country are not receiving equal education to others. Some industries are not able to compete in the same way that others are..."
But access to broadband is not the only matter of concern.
"The ability of some Internet Service Providers to control the speed and access to some websites is also of concern. Right now the small creative website creator has as much chance of being seen as the largest corporation. Some telecommunications companies want to change that," said Clancy.
This issue is called network neutrality and, simply put, it is the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally, regardless of origin, destination or the software used to create it.
"Perhaps the best known case of net neutrality violation is the dispute between Telus and their union," said Clancy.
"Telus blocked its Internet customers from visiting a website, Voices for Change, that was sympathetic to the striking workers of Telus, members of the Telecommunications Workers Union. Not only did Telus cut access to the Voices for Change site but it also blocked access to 766 unrelated websites that were hosted on the same Florida based server."
The National Union has launched a web page to start tracking Internet issues and provide a resource to activists wanting to get involved. NUPGE