How to Make a Complaint About your Internet Service

The CRTC does not regulate the rates charged to consumers for Internet service or the billing practices of Internet service providers (ISPs). We therefore cannot act on complaints that concern these issues. We therefore cannot pursue complaints about rates for you.

However, we do oversee how service providers are allowed to use Internet traffic management practices (ITMPs). These practices are used by ISPs to help them manage the flow of traffic in their networks. One of the more widely used ITMP practices is called “throttling.” If you think your provider is using unacceptable practices which impact your Internet service, you can complain to the CRTC.

Know your rights

The CRTC oversees how your Internet service provider may use Internet traffic management practices, including:

  • Technical practices used to modify Internet traffic flow
  • Notification and disclosure of economic practices that link Internet service rates to how much you use the Internet

What your provider must tell you

Your Internet service provider must disclose to you:

  • Information about pricing, including any pricing that links Internet service rates to how much you use the Internet
  • Information about whether technical traffic management practices are being used and, if they are, the effect they have on your Internet service

Your service provider must display the following information about their technical traffic management practices clearly and prominently on its website, in customer contracts, and in Terms of Service documents:

  • Why the Internet traffic management practice is being used
  • Who is affected by the practice
  • When it will apply the practice
  • The type of Internet traffic—for example, peer-to-peer file sharing—subject to the practice
  • How the traffic management practice will affect your Internet experience, including the specific effect on the speed of your Internet connection

Introducing or changing a practice

At least 30 days before introducing a new traffic management practice or revising an existing one, your service provider must display information about the change on its website. This is not required if the change makes the practice less restrictive.

Prohibited traffic management practices

Unless your service provider has received prior approval from the CRTC, it may not use traffic management practices that do any of the following:

  • Lead to blocking the delivery of content to you
  • Result in the noticeable degradation of time-sensitive Internet traffic
  • Slow non-time-sensitive traffic to the extent that it amounts to blocking the content

For persons with disabilities

All ISP website disclosures must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

How to make a complaint about your Internet service

Before you complain to the CRTC about an Internet traffic management practice, you should first contact your Internet service provider to see if it can resolve the issue.

If your service provider doesn’t address your complaint to your satisfaction, and you believe that your service provider’s traffic management practices are not compliant with the CRTC’s policies, you can complain to the CRTC. Before doing this, make sure that you know your rights.

What to include in your complaint

In your complaint, explain why you think your service provider’s traffic management practice doesn’t meet the requirements set out in their traffic management policy.  It is not necessary to provide technical details about the problem, but the CRTC needs enough information to understand the problem.  Please, clearly describe:

  • What part of the traffic management policy you believe the provider has not followed
  • When the problem occurred, and whether it is a recurring problem
  • Which software program, or application, has been affected
  • How the application has been affected
  • The steps you’ve taken to try to resolve the issue with your service provider, including your provider’s response to your complaint

How to send your complaint

You can submit your complaint to the CRTC using any of these methods:

  • Online: Ask a question or make a complaint
  • Mail: Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2
  • Fax: 819-994-0218
  • Alternative formats: other formats that improve accessibility for people with disabilities

How we respond to complaints

When we receive a complaint from an individual about a service provider’s use of Internet traffic management practices, we review the evidence submitted by the individual and decide whether the complaint raises compliance issues.

Complaint resolution process

If we believe your complaint raises potential compliance issues:

  1. We will forward the complaint to your service provider within 15 days of the date we received the complaint.
  2. The service provider will be expected to file a response with the CRTC, and with you, within 20 days of receiving the complaint.
  3. You may file a reply to the service provider’s response, with a copy to the service provider, within 10 days of the date that the service provider has filed its response with the CRTC.
  4. We will review the service provider’s response to your complaint and any reply you may file and determine whether its traffic management practices comply with the CRTC’s policy and with the Telecommunications Act (the Act).
  5. If we consider that the service provider’s traffic management practices comply with the CRTC’s policy and with the Act, we will close the complaint and notify you as soon as possible, no later than 15 days from the date we received the ISP’s response.
  6. If the traffic management practice does not comply with the CRTC’s policy and with the Act, we may take one or more of the following actions:
    • Request more information from the provider or from you
    • Request a meeting with the service provider to discuss the complaint in more detail
    • Send a letter to the service provider outlining corrective measures it must take
    • Initiate an on-site inspection or independent third-party audit to obtain additional information
    • Issue a notice of consultation
    • Initiate a hearing at which the service provider would have to explain why the CRTC should not issue a mandatory order, which the CRTC could register with the Federal Court; the mandatory order would direct the ISP to take corrective actions, and could include partial reimbursement to the customer
  7. If the traffic management practice does comply with the CRTC’s policy and with the Act, the complaint is closed.

How to see what complaints have been made

All findings of non-compliance will be published on our website with the service provider’s name and the nature of the complaint. Every three months, the Commission will publish a summary of the number and types of complaints it has received on its website, including the number of active and resolved complaints.

Related information

Internet Traffic Management Practices

Status Report – Complaints Related to Internet Traffic Management Practices (ITMPs)