Common Carrier

Since graduating from Engineering at the U of Waterloo, I have been in telecom all of my adult life. I was taught that telecom companies are “common carriers” and are subject to certain rules and regulations that other industries are not.

Simply put, in common law countries like Canada, industries like railways, airlines, pipelines and telecom firms that offer their services to the general public under a licence or authority provided by a regulatory body are common carriers. One of the biggest obligations of a common carrier is non-discrimination. A common carrier cannot discriminate, i.e. refuse the service to some members of the public and not others, or give prejudicial treatment to a favoured few.

Yet, I notice that in this day and age , telecom companies are discriminating, openly and blatantly and violating the principles of common carriage.

One example would be when a telecom company throttles your Internet service, slowing down bit torrent packets or videogame packets. Or when the companies that own the telecom facilities also own the content that rides on them (so called vertical integration). If they hoard that content and do not allow other carriers access to it at reasonable rates then it violates the principles of common carriage.

I would happily pay content providers directly for some content that appeals to me; say HBO or NBA basketball with their League Pass. Unfortunately, that is not allowed; I cant watch the Toronto Raptors on my computer by paying the league directly because the rights holder in Canada insists it be blacked out. They try and force me to purchase their offerings which I have no interest in.

When did we allow this to happen and what should we do about it ?