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PIAC Media Release CRTC Local Forbearance Decision

April 6, 2006

For Immediate Release

On Balance, CRTC Will Provide Consumer Protection: PIAC

Consumer groups reacted with cautious optimism to today’s CRTC Decision regarding the framework for deregulation of local exchange services. Right now, local telephone service offered by incumbent providers like Bell, Telus, Aliant, MTS or SaskTel are regulated to protect consumers with respect to matters such as price, quality of service, and terms of such as privacy, disconnection and billing matters. The CRTC Decision sets the terms under which most of those protections and CRTC oversight will be removed.

Michael Janigan, the General Counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre represented Consumer Groups, including the Consumers Association of Canada, the National Anti-Poverty Organization and l’Union des consommateurs in the hearings that gave rise to the Decision.

“We are pleased that the Commission listened to our views on the consumer safeguards that are necessary in markets which have been deemed to be competitive. These safeguards include mandatory stand alone local service subject to a price ceiling, privacy protection, billing and disconnection rights and continued access to disabled services,” Janigan said.

Less favourable to consumers was the Commission test for competition which seems to allow deregulation when a duopoly exists and a refusal to continue service quality standards in all markets.

“This decision considers the very real problems faced by most consumers who may not be able to get the kind of discounts for high end packages which some consumers will be able to negotiate,” said John Lawford, legal counsel for PIAC.

The PIAC legal team presented expert evidence and submissions on behalf of residential consumers at the hearings that took place last fall in Gatineau.

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More information:

Michael Janigan (613) 562-4002 ext 26

John Lawford (613) 562-4002 ext 25

http://www.piac.ca

 

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