CRTC approves initiatives to benefit Canadians with disabilities and expand rural broadband services



    OTTAWA and GATINEAU, Jan. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Radio-television
and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today approved several initiatives
that will benefit Canadians with disabilities and expand broadband services to
rural and remote communities. The major local telephone companies were also
directed by the Commission to finalize proposals for the dispersal of the
funds in their deferral accounts.
    "Today's decision will not only make telecommunications services more
accessible to all Canadians, but also serve to enhance social and economic
development in underserved communities," said Len Katz, the CRTC's
Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications.
    The proposals approved by the Commission include initiatives to improve
accessibility to telecommunications services for persons with disabilities in
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. In
developing their proposals, the companies consulted with federal and
provincial governments, national and provincial organizations representing
persons with disabilities, and researchers in the field.
    With this decision, as well as one issued in July 2007, funds will also
be used to expand broadband services to more than 350 rural and remote
communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
    Any funds remaining in the deferral accounts will be rebated to the
relevant residential subscribers living in urban areas in these provinces. The
Commission directed the major local telephone companies to file, by March 25,
2008, proposals outlining how rebates could be most effectively made both in
terms of benefits to customers and minimal disruption to companies.
    It is estimated that over $650 million has accumulated in the deferral
accounts since they were created in 2002. Bell Aliant (in Ontario and Quebec),
Bell Canada, MTS Allstream, SaskTel and TELUS were required to place into
their accounts an amount equal to the revenue reductions that would otherwise
have resulted from the application of the price cap formula.

    The CRTC

    The CRTC is an independent, public authority that regulates and
supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.

    Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-1
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/whatsnew.htm

    Reference documents:
    Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-50
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Decisions/2007/dt2007-50.htm
    News release, "CRTC directs funds in deferral accounts to expand rural
    broadband and services for Canadians with disabilities," February 16,
    2006
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/NEWS/RELEASES/2006/r060216.htm
    Telecom Decision CRTC 2006-9
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Decisions/2006/dt2006-9.htm
    Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-15
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Notices/2006/pt2006-15.htm
    Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2004-1
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/eng/notices/2004/pt2004-1.htm

    
                      Backgrounder on deferral accounts

    About deferral accounts

    In 2002, the Commission set out its price cap framework. This included
rules governing the rates charged to residential and business consumers as
well as to competitor companies by the major local telephone companies. One of
the elements of the price regulation regime was the deferral account.
    Price cap regulation places a ceiling on prices a company can charge its
customers. At the same time, in order to avoid an adverse impact on local
competition as a result of mandated rate reductions under the price cap
framework, the Commission required each major local telephone company to
create a deferral account. The companies were requested to place into those
accounts amounts equal to the revenue reductions that would otherwise have
resulted from an application of the price cap formula.
    In 2006, the Commission determined that the funds that had accumulated in
the deferral accounts should be used for the expansion of broadband
(high-speed Internet) services and for initiatives to improve accessibility to
telecommunications services for persons with disabilities. The Commission also
concluded that any funds remaining after these initiatives had been approved
should be rebated to the companies' residential local service subscribers in
non-high-cost serving areas.
    In 2007, the Commission revised its price cap framework and eliminated the
deferral account mechanism. As such, no funds will be accumulated in the
deferral accounts on a going forward basis.

    Accessibility initiatives

    The Commission has approved several proposals to improve accessibility to
telecommunications services for persons with disabilities in British Columbia,
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

    The proposals included initiatives to:

    - introduce Internet Protocol Relay, a text-based tool that would allow
      persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulty speaking to
      communicate through the telephone system with hearing persons through a
      relay agent;
    - introduce Video Relay Service, a service that would allow a person
      using sign language and another person using voice to communicate
      through a relay agent via high-speed Internet and video camera;
    - improve Voice Activated Dialing service;
    - enhance Directory Assistance;
    - improve access to certain telecommunications services for persons with
      sight and mobility disabilities;
    - improve accessibility to the websites of some of the major local
      telephone companies;
    - establish a single point of contact for persons with disabilities to
      receive customer service tailored to the specific needs of the
      customer;
    - conduct research into the needs of persons with disabilities during the
      development process of new products and services; and
    - provide free teletypewriter (TTY) units to all Transition Houses
      in Saskatchewan.

    Broadband expansion

    The Commission has approved initiatives to expand broadband services to
the following rural and remote communities, or nearby areas:

                               British Columbia

    Anahim's Flat 1                             Kitwanga
    Appledale                                   Kitwanga (Boulder Creek)
    Beaver Valley                               Kitwanga (Cedarvale)
    Beaver Valley (Big Lake Road N.)            Kitwanga (Kitseguecla)
    Beaver Valley (Big Lake Road W.)            Kitwanga (Kitwancool)
    Beaver Valley (Marguerite Lake)             Klahoose First Nations
    Beaver Valley (McInnes Lake)                (Tork 7)
    Beaver Valley (Overton Road)                Kluskus No. 1
    Blackpool                                   Kwiakah
    Bonaparte (Bonaparte 3)                     Kwicksutaineuk-Ah-Kwaw-
    Boswell                                     Ah-Mish
    Boswell (Akokli Creek)                      (Gwayasdums No. 1)
    Boswell (Hepher Road)                       Lake Babine Nation
    Boswell (Mountain Shores)                   (Babine 6)
    Boswell (Redmond Road)                      Lake Babine Nation
    Boswell (Sanca Creek)                       (Pinkut Lake 23)
    Bridge River No. 1                          Lake Babine Nation
    Canoe Creek                                 Tachet Lake
    Chawathil                                   (Babine 25)
    Cheslatta Carrier Nation (Cheslatta 1)      Lakelse Lake
    Christina Lake                              Little Shuswap Lake
    Christina Lake (Cascade City)               (Chum Creek)
    Christina Lake (English Point)              Loos
    Cluculz Lake (Bednesti)                     Manning Park
    Cluculz Lake (Bednesti Lake)                Manning Park (East Gate)
    Cluculz Lake (Isle Pierre)                  Marble Bay
    Coffin Point                                McLeod Lake
    Compton Island No. 6                        McLeod Lake (McLeod Lake 1)
    Da'naxda'xw First Nation (Dead Point No. 5) Mowachaht (BC024)
    D'Arcy (Gates Lake)                         Mowachaht (BC064)
    Decker Lake                                 Mowachaht (Ahaminaquus 12)
    Decker Lake (Palling Road West)             Moyie
    Decker Lake (Rose Lane)                     Nee-Tahi-Buhn
    Ditidaht (Malachan 11)                      Uncha Lake 13A)
    Donald                                      Neskonlith (Neskonlith No. 1)
    Duncan Lake                                 Nicomen
    Duncan Lake (Argenta)                       Nimpo Lake
    Duncan Lake (Howser)                        Nooaitch No. 10
    Duncan Lake (Johnson's Landing)             Oclucje No. 7
    Duncan Lake (Lardeau)                       Oregan Jack Creek No. 3
    Duncan Lake (Marblehead)                    Pender Harbour (Earl's Cove)
    Duncan Lake (Meadow Creek)                  Pender Harbour (Egmont)
    East Pine                                   Penelakut Spit (Kuper
    Ehattesaht (Chenahkint 12)                  Island 7)
    Elko                                        Port Simpson
    Elko (Baynes Lake)                          Prophet River (Prophet
    Elko (Waldo Road)                           River 4)
    Flatrock                                    Puckatholetchin No. 11
    Flatrock (Boundary Lake)                    Red Mountain (Red Mountain
    Francois Lake (Gallacher Road)              Ski Area)
    Francois Lake (Tchesinkut Lake)             Reid Lake (Reid Lake Road)
    Gitsegukla (Gitsegukla 1)                   Sahhaltkum No. 4
    Glen Vowell (Sik-e-dakh 2)                  Saltery Bay
    Hansard                                     Saulteau (East Moberly
    Hesquiaht                                   Lake 169)
    Hesquiaht (Refuge Cove 6)                   Shackan No. 11
    High Bar No. 1                              Siska (Siska Flat No. 3)
    Hope Island No. 1                           Skatin Nations
    Inklyuhkinatko No. 2                        (Skookumchuck 4)
    Jaffray (Bull River)                        Skeetchestn
    Jaffray (Galloway)                          Skin Tyee (Skins Lake
    Kahmoose No. 4                              No. 16A)
    Kanaka Bar No. 1A                           Skookumchuck (Lazy Lake)
    Kingsgate                                   Spuzzum (Spuzzum 1)
    Kitselas (Kulspai 6)                        Stone No. 1
                                                Thrums
                                                Toosey No. 1
                                                Trout Lake
                                                Tsawatanineuk (Quaee 7)
                                                Tsimpsean No. 2
                                                Upper Nicola (Douglas Lake 3)
                                                Vallican
                                                Westwold (Monte Lake)
                                                Wet'suwet'en (Palling No. 1)
                                                Xeni Gwet'in First Nations
                                                Government
                                                (Chilco Lake No. 1A)
                                                Yellow Point


                                   Alberta

    Alder Flats                                 Jarvie
    Ashmont                                     Joussard
    Bear Canyon                                 Keephills
    Berwyn                                      Keg River
    Blue Ridge                                  Legal
    Brocket                                     Leslieville
    Buck Lake                                   Longview
    Burdett                                     Ma-Me-O-Beach
    Bruce                                       Manyberries
    Bymr/Byemoor                                Marlboro
    Calling Lake                                Mclennan
    Cardiff Echos                               Mulhurst
    Chipewyan Lake                              Mundare
    Clyde                                       New Dayton
    Coutts                                      Nordegg
    Derwent                                     Peerless Lake
    Dixonville                                  Peers
    Donalda                                     Pickardville
    Donalda (Dnldab03)                          Robb
    Donnelly                                    Rochester
    East Coulee                                 Rolling Hills
    Elkwater                                    Rosalind
    Enchant                                     Rosebud
    English Bay                                 Saddle Lake I.R.
    Etzikom                                     Schuler
    Faust                                       Seba Beach
    Ferintosh                                   Seven Persons
    Flatbush                                    Smith
    Foremost                                    Smoky Lake
    Gift Lake                                   Stirling
    Girouxville                                 St. Michael
    Gleichen                                    Tilley
    Grassy Lake                                 Vilna
    Hays                                        Walsh
    Heinsburg                                   Warner
    Hsir/Heisler                                Warspite
    Hilda                                       Waskatenau
    Hines Creek                                 Waterton Park
    Hobbema                                     Whitelaw
    Holden                                      Widewater
    Hussar                                      Wildwood
    Irma                                        Worsley
    Iron Springs                                Wrentham

                                   Manitoba

    Cooks Creek                                 Poplar Point
    Cranberry Portage                           Rockwood
    Dallas                                      Roseau River
    Falcon River                                Sandy Bay
    Lee River                                   Sprucewoods
    Lynn Lake                                   St. Eustache
    Nelson House                                Sunset Bay
    Oswald                                      Woodridge

                                   Ontario

    Acton                                       Marathon
    Ailsa Craig                                 Markdale
    Apsely                                      Maynooth
    Armstrong                                   McKellar
    Bancroft                                    Meaford
    Barry's Bay                                 Morson
    Beachville                                  Nakina
    Bluewater Beach                             Newtonville
    Blyth                                       Northbrook
    Calabogie                                   Otter Lake
    Campbellville                               Oxdrift
    Cartier                                     Parry Sound
    Clinton                                     Pass Lake
    Cloud Bay                                   Pelee Island
    Cobden                                      Pembroke
    Creemore                                    Petawawa
    Denbigh                                     Pickle Lake
    Dorion                                      Plevna
    Dublin                                      Pointe au Baril
    Dundalk                                     Ridgeway
    Eagle River                                 Sauble Beach
    Echo Bay                                    Sault St. Marie-Airport
    Feversham                                   Sebright
    Flesherton                                  Selkirk
    Fort Erie                                   Shebandowan
    Gilmour                                     South River
    Goderich                                    Stevensville
    Gogama                                      St-Joseph Island
    Golden Lake                                 Stratton
    Goulais                                     Tamworth
    Kaministiquia                               Thornbury
    Lafontaine                                  Vermilion Bay
    Lucan                                       Wabigoon
    MacDiarmid                                  Wawa
    Madoc                                       Wiarton
    Magnetawan                                  Winona

                                   Quebec

    Anse au Griffon                             La Romaine
    Arundel                                     Leeds
    Ayer's Cliff                                Longue Pointe de Mingan
    Baie-St-Paul                                Lourdes de Blanc Sablon
    Baie-Trinité                                Mansonville
    Bishopton                                   Marsoui
    Bury                                        Mingan
    Cap des Rosiers                             Natashquan
    Clermont                                    Ormstown
    Cloridorme                                  Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-
                                                Est Cabinet
    Colombier                                   Rivière-Bleue
    Compton                                     Rock Island
    Cookshire                                   Saint-Alexis-de-Matapédia
    Dunham                                      Saint-Chrysostome
    East Broughton                              Saint-François-d'Assise
    Franklin Centre                             Saint-Maxime-du-Mont-Louis
    Gesgapegiag 2                               St-Augustin
    Gros Morne                                  St-Honoré (Témiscouata Co.)
    Hébertville-Station                         St-Jean de la Lande
    Hemmingford                                 St-Joseph-des-Erables
    Henryville                                  Stratford Centre
    Huntingdon                                  St-Sébastien (Frontenac Co.)
    Ile-aux-Coudres                             St-Théophile
    Knowlton                                    Sutton
    Lac Sacré-Coeur                             Tring Jonction
    La Malbaie                                  Weedon
    L'Annonciation
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Relations:
http://support.crtc.gc.ca/CRTCSubmissionMU/forms/Mediarelations.aspx?lang=e,
(819) 997-9403, Fax: (819) 997-4245; General Inquiries: (819) 997-0313, TDD:
(819) 994-0423, Fax: (819) 994-0218, Toll-free No.: 1-877-249-CRTC (2782), TDD
- Toll-free No. 1-877-909-CRTC (2782); On-line services
http://support.crtc.gc.ca/crtcsubmissionmu/forms/main.aspx?lang=e; These
documents are available in alternative format upon request.


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