How Internet service providers deal with thousands of customers using their networks will come under scrutiny by the CRTC this week with public hearings on their policies to manage or shape the flow of user traffic.

The CRTC hearings will look at Internet traffic management practices by service providers. Among ISPs testifying are Bell, Rogers Communications, and Quebecor.

Independent providers say they are penalized by practices to limit some traffic. “I have no way to change that experience,” said Tom Copeland, head of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers.

Copeland provides Internet service to about 3,500 customers on in Cobourg, Ont. He buys wholesale Internet services from Bell.

The CRTC sided with Bell in a ruling last fall that stated Bell was within its right to regulate the flow of traffic on its network. Copeland’s association filed a complaint in April 2008 saying that Bell’s attempts to regulate who has access to the Internet at peak hours was an attempt to stifle competition.

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