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PIAC and Telephone Companies Work to Ensure Consumers are Aware of Toll Rates

PIAC AND TELEPHONE COMPANIES WORK TO ENSURE CONSUMERS ARE AWARE OF BASIC TOLL RATES FOR LONG-DISTANCE

Contact: John Lawford, PIAC
(613) 562-4002×25
jlawford@piac.ca

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (“PIAC”) and Aliant Telecom Inc., Bell Canada, MTS Allstream Inc., Saskatchewan Telecommunications and TELUS Communications Inc. (the “phone companies”) have agreed to work towards increased visibility of basic toll rates for consumers who make infrequent long-distance telephone calls.

Consumers pay basic toll rates for long-distance calls when they are not subscribed to a phone company long-distance plan. Basic toll rates are “pay-as-you-go” rates that vary depending upon the distance called and the time of day. There is no monthly fee to use basic toll services and they are regulated by the CRTC. For some low-volume long-distance consumers, basic toll rates may be more advantageous than phone company long-distance plans.

In Telecom Decision 97-19, Forbearance – Regulation of Toll Services Provided by Incumbent Telephone Companies (18 December 1997), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) conditionally forbore from the regulation of long-distance services. Among the conditions were ceilings on basic toll rates and a requirement that basic toll rates be made “publicly available”.

PUBLIC INTEREST ADVOCACY CENTRE

LE CENTRE POUR LA DEFENSE DE L’INTERET PUBLIC
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 7B7

Tel: (613) 562-4002. Fax: (613) 562-0007. e-mail: piac@piac.ca. http://www.piac.ca

In 2002, PIAC brought an application to the CRTC to seek direction on how and where basic toll rates should be disclosed to consumers. On June 25, 2004, PIAC and the phone companies settled the CRTC proceeding and PIAC has withdrawn its application.

PIAC and the phone companies agreed that consumers will be best informed about basic toll rates by:

  • Publishing all basic toll rate schedules on phone company public websites;
  • Making sure that basic toll rates are clearly presented alongside long-distance plans on websites and in phone company mailings;
  • Publishing basic toll rate information in the introductory white pages of the phone directory;
  • Ensuring that phone company customer service representatives provide basic toll rate information to consumers who request it, free of charge.

PIAC and the phone companies also have committed to continue to consult on the basic toll rate information that will be provided to consumers in the future.

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