Canadian phone company SaskTel, the telephone company (and broadband/tv provider) for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, has been allowed by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to discontinue rotary-dial service.
Remarkable (to me) is that they still 'get away' with charging for touch-tone as a premium service when the other option is not available anymore (and in a modern exchange rotary support is probably more expensive than touch-tone).
(footage from the cbc item was used in a 'ligher news' item here in the Netherlands)
The press release is a bit puzzling since it says Touch Tone is needed to access special services such as Call Waiting. The ESS special services were developed when most subscribers were manual; and most services will work fine with rotary phones (voice mail will not). Instead of hitting *, one dials 11, eg, *69 is 1169.
The conclusion of the earticle says rotary phones will still be supported: "Finally, even with the move to touch-tone service, customers will still be able to use their rotary dial phones if they want to, the CRTC says." So, as the other poster suggests, this sounds like an excuse to charge everyone the Touch Tone premium rate. I believe some of the Baby Bells did the same thing a few years ago-- simply increased the rates to make Touch Tone standard for all, whether one actually used it or not.
As to the price and cost of providing a service, they are not necessarily related. Services seen as a premium service get charged more. As an example, a cement plant charges one price for a bag of cement, but they charge a higher price for a pre-mixed bag of cement and sand, even though sand is cheaper than cement and the pre-mixed bag costs less to make.
I don't think rotary service costs any more to provide in a modern exchange. An exchange still requires the ability to detect line pulsing for things as on/off hook supervision and 'flashing', and this is done by a signal processor. Since that capability is already in place, it's simple for the software to count up the dial pulses as they come in. (The ESS literature on BSTJ explains all of this.)
We developed 60 hz hum on the POTS line 8 years ago when the Aliant line and service guys were on strike. Several visits from "crews" composed of accountants, marketing guys and managers failed to solve the problem. Finally, one manager type went tearing off in the truck to the big cabinet 5 miles away on the main road. Claimed to have yanked out a circuit board and stuck in a new one. The hum was gone. Off they go, happy and proud of theirselfs.
Only now our dial phones no longer work. Oy.
Well, I'd been collecting up Nortel 2500 sets from junk stores for a few years so we just swapped a couple of them in and all was well.
Returned two 500-type phones to Aliant. Our bill went down. No new charge for "touch-tone" but no longer rental for the dial sets.
Could it be that remote "concentrators" interpret the dial signals? In old Bell System days, I believe the concentrators would switch the call locally without going to the C.O. if the called party was served by the concentrator (per the Bell Labs history 1925-1975). Perhaps the modern circuit cards in the concentrator do not handle rotary signals.
Was it common eight years ago to be still renting phones in your area? In the US, at the time of Divesture, they gave subscribers the option to buy their in-place telephone sets at a very reasonable price. New manufacturers made very inexpensive sets, too, and the payback against rental was less than a year.
The hardware detection of dial pulsing is exactly the same as on-hook/off-hook detection. That is true whether or not a CO switch or a remote switch or concentrator terminates the subscriber loop. All it takes is a few lines of code in the signaling processing microprocessor (or DSP...) to count the dial pulsing and such code has existed for scores of years. To include it or not is a management decision which, in reality, involves no real cost savings whatsoever.
Take from an old line card device application engineer, there is no difference in the hardware, only some minor software code to count the pulses... If pulse dialing doesn't work anymore, it's because somebody made the decision to remove it without saving any money...
PS - the 60 Hz hum was likely due to a bad connection that caused the line to become unbalanced. It could have been at the card/rack interface or any splice in the line. Maybe the manager got lucky.... It is possible that a component failure on the card caused the unbalance, but that should have caused other symptoms in addition to the hum.
Even in areas where they don't charge a separate fee for DTMF (Touch-Tone) what usually happens is that the PUC (utility governing body) allows TPC (the phone company) to increase the base rate for service the same amount that one formerly paid for the DTMF service. No savings at all.
I don't know about "concentrators". The only other anecdotal data point is that about 1987 or '89, when (then) MT&T replaced our party line with a private line, the "new" line would accept pulse or tone dialing. (Determined from using a modem to call into Unix hosts from a CP/M machine. :-) After a few weeks, the tone dial capacity stopped. Since pulse worked with both dial phones and modem, there was no reason to keep checking until, as recounted in the previous post, pulse went away suddenly.
I really doubt if it's common. Ours had been in place since 1973. I have at least one friend with a dial phone that I think was telco-installed mid-80s. I've seen a horrible little piece of junk which I think is the current default phone Bell Aliant will give you if you say, "Install a phone and just make it work. I don't want to think about it." That might be a rental.
Which no doubt accounts for me being able to pick up 2500 sets in junk stores.