PIAC: Local Telephone Customers Will Pay the Price for Deregulation

    OTTAWA, Aug. 3 /CNW/ - Ordinary consumers will pay the price for today's
deregulation of Canada's major urban local telephone markets by the CRTC, says
the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. The Commission today released decisions
deregulating local exchange services for most local telephone exchanges in
Ontario and Quebec, many in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and larger urban areas in
Alberta and B.C. Today's series of decisions result from the intervention of
Industry Minister Maxime Bernier earlier this year to overrule the CRTC and
let Canada's big telephone companies, including Bell Canada, TELUS, MTS
Allstream and Sasktel, escape regulation earlier than previously determined.
Industry Minister Bernier has promised that hastening local telephone service
deregulation will lead to lower telephone rates for consumers.
    PIAC doesn't think so. "Telephone services are going the way of banking
services - any discounts will be for big customers and the competition will
not be strong enough to produce real benefits for ordinary consumers" said
Michael Janigan, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Public Interest
Advocacy Centre in Ottawa. "And there will be no CRTC oversight to ensure
quality of service does not go down at the same time."
    John Lawford, PIAC legal counsel noted: "If you are a high volume
customer who threatens to move your business to another carrier such as a
cable company you might negotiate a better rate. But average consumers will
have to eventually foot the bill for those individual discounts and will carry
the full weight of telephone companies' drives to increase profit. It could
get expensive."
    PIAC participated in all CRTC and government processes associated with
telephone deregulation on behalf of ordinary and vulnerable residential

For further information:

For further information: Michael Janigan, Executive Director and General
Counsel, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, 1204 - 1 Nicholas Street, Ottawa,
ON, K1S 2P1, Tel: (613) 562-4002x26, (613) 562-0007 (Fax); John Lawford,
Counsel, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 7B7, (613) 562-4002x25, (613) 562-0007 (Fax),

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