Canada’s Freedom Mobile throttles video streaming, accused of violating net neutrality
Freedom Mobile, Canada’s 4th largest mobile service provider with over 1 million subscribers, is throttling video playback on YouTube, Netflix and other video streaming sites using deep packet inspection (DPI). One user on the Freedom Mobile subreddit showed through speedtests that their YouTube video streaming was being limited to under 800 Kbps even when their actual internet speeds were twenty times that. He wasn’t able to stream any YouTube videos over 480p without using a VPN – with a VPN, the user was able to hit 30 Mbps speeds while streaming.
Editor’s note: Freedom Mobile has officially responded to Mobile Syrup telling them that the throttling was unintentional and the result of 3G “video optimization” software being unintentionally deployed on LTE networks.
In the past, other Canadian telecoms and internet service providers (ISPs) have been caught violating net neutrality with zero rating programs, p2p traffic throttling, and even blatant blocking of websites. Unfortunately, in Canada, the regulatory authority doesn’t actively seek out telecoms that are violating net neutrality rules, but rather requires net neutrality violations to be reported by Canadians before action can be taken – resulting in net neutrality enforcement that has been “half throttle” as Michael Geist calls it.
Net neutrality is supposed to be protected in Canada
Earlier this year, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) adopted strong Canadian net neutrality rules, stating:
“Internet providers must treat data traffic the same, regardless of content.”
In the states, Verizon Wireless recently ran a similar test, which throttled Netflix and YouTube, to massive public uproar and backlash. Freedom Mobile customers, seeing the net neutrality violation news in the states, were reminded that their own video streaming experience was still being throttled.
In fact, Freedom Mobile has a long history of throttling certain services, even going back over a year ago when the company was operating as Wind Mobile, before its acquisition by Shaw Communications, one of Canada’s biggest ISPs. Freedom Mobile is also a participant of the controversial Facebook Zero project and zero rates access to a host of items through a web portal. The fight for net neutrality is an uphill battle, even in countries where rules are established and clear.
Canadians can report net neutrality violations and internet accessibility complaints to the CRTC by following instructions here.
Featured image by Jason Walton.