Bell Canada Launches VoIP without Reg Approval

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By Charlotte Wolter

In a move that could put it head to head with Canadian regulator CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Council), Bell Canada (BCE Inc.) has launched its consumer voice-over-IP service, Bell Digital Voice, in one of its local service areas without waiting for approval by the regulatory authority.

The CRTC has been in the process of developing explicit policies for VoIP services, but is not expected to issue formal regulations until later this year. In the meantime, Bell Canada has launched the service in three locations in Quebec province: Sherbrooke, Quebec City and Trois-Rivieres, after a trial of several months in Sherbrooke.

"Bell Canada is throwing down the gauntlet," says Jon Arnold, principal of J. Arnold Associates, a VoIP consulting firm. "They are saying, 'You are taking too long to make a decision on VoIP.' "

Bell Canada is using the carefully chosen term 'retail Internet applications' to describe its new service. The reason for the wording is the only explicit CRTC regulation on Internet services is a 1998 ruling that exempts 'retail Internet applications' from pricing regulations.

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