Canada telcos to regulators: you're clueless

Yesterday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it would regulate VoIP services only when it is provided and used as local telephone service.That decision is widely viewed as quite favorable (Canadians would say, "favourable") to pure-play VoIP providers who do not currently engage in local phone services, nor have their own phone networks to do so.

Yesterday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it would regulate VoIP services only when it is provided and used as local telephone service.

That decision is widely viewed as quite favorable (Canadians would say, "favourable") to pure-play VoIP providers who do not currently engage in local phone services, nor have their own phone networks to do so.

Those who back the CRTC claim that because deep-pocketed Canadian incumbent telcos such as Bell Canada and Telus could presumably fight back against these pure-play VoIP services with predatory pricing, these companies VoIP efforts should be regulated, while newer VoIP offerings should have the freedom to set their own access rates.

You can imagine how well that went over with Telus and Bell Canada.

In fact, governmental affairs officials at both firms let the CRTC have it today. Comments from representatives of Telus and Bell Canada appear in the newest Ottawa Business Journal, out today.

Here's what Bell Canada and Telus representatives said to the weekly business newspaper based in the Canadian capital (where the ruling was issued):

Lawson Hunter, executive vice-president of regulatory affairs for Bell Canada parent company BCE Inc.: The decision is"a historic mistake for Canada and for our consumers." Hunter added that the CRTC is "retarding investment and choice," and that the body "doesn't understand where technology is heading."

Telus executive veep of government and regulatory affairs Janet Yale said the ruling represents a "missed opportunity," and maintained Internet applications should not be regulated.

Yale also told the Edmonton Sun: "The commission has denied Canadian telephone companies an opportunity to leverage their leadership in Internet protocol technology to the benefit of customers."

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