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IN THIS ISSUE:** Telecom Update Takes a Holiday ** Aliant Launches IP TV ** EastLink Boosts Internet Speed ** Bell to End $5 Long Distance ** Bell and Telus to Offer VoIP 9-1-1 Routing ** Mixed Response to Price Cap Extension ** Bell Plans Business IP Voice ** Outages Hit Blackberry Users ** Good News for RIM from U.S. Patent Office ** CRTC Wants Input on "Reverse 9-1-1" ** ITU Aims to "Connect the World" by 2015 ** Telus Union Announces "Super Service" ** Cogeco Renews Union Contracts ** CRTC Streamlines International Licensing ** Local Forbearance Comments Submitted ** BT Forced to Spin Off Access Services Unit
TELECOM UPDATE TAKES A HOLIDAY: Telecom Update is taking a week off. The next issue will be published Friday, July 8.
ALIANT LAUNCHES IP TV: Aliant has launched an IP-based digital television service delivering 150 TV and 70 music channels. Aliant TV, initially available to Aliant High-Speed Internet customers in "select areas of Clayton Park West, Wedgewood and Rockingham in Halifax," will eventually expand to "other select areas of Halifax" and some other cities in Atlantic Canada. Introductory pricing begin at $29.95/month.
EASTLINK BOOSTS INTERNET SPEED: EastLink has introduced 10 Mbps Internet access across all its serving areas in the Maritimes. Ethernet Bundled service customers will receive the upgrade for free; the service can be rented on a standalone basis for $54.95/month.
BELL TO END $5 LONG DISTANCE: Speaking to an analyst briefing this week, Kevin Crull, President of Bell Canada's Consumer Solutions organization, said the telco will eliminate its $5 long distance offering soon. The year-old plan provides 1,000 minutes a month of Canada/U.S. calling to customers who subscribe to two of Bell's wireless, high-speed Internet, or TV services. (See Telecom Update #438)
BELL AND TELUS TO OFFER VoIP 9-1-1 ROUTING: Bell Canada and Telus have filed tariffs allowing them to route VoIP 9-1-1 calls to the correct emergency centres on behalf of other VoIP providers and alternate operator service providers. They have asked for effective dates in early July (see Telecom Update #476).
MIXED RESPONSE TO PRICE CAP EXTENSION: Comments from incumbents and other parties show that some support the CRTC's proposal to extend the current price cap regime for two years to 2008, some argue for just a one-year extension, while others say the regime needs modifying, in particular by scrapping the deferral account mechanism. (See Telecom Update #481)
BELL PLANS BUSINESS IP VOICE: There's been no official announcement, but Bell Canada's website says that "Bell Business IP Voice" will be available this summer. The service, which has not yet received tariff approval, appears to be an access-independent VoIP service aimed at small and medium-sized business customers.
OUTAGES HIT BLACKBERRY USERS: BlackBerry users across Canada and the U.S. reported widespread service outages on June 17 and June 22, ranging from a few minutes to several hours. We have seen no official statement from Research In Motion about the failures.
GOOD NEWS FOR RIM FROM U.S. PATENT OFFICE: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has struck down two more of the NTP Inc. patents at issue in its suit against Research In Motion. Seven of the eight contested NTP patents have now been overruled. NTP says these rulings are preliminary, subject to appeal, and "won't have any bearing" on the case.
CRTC WANTS INPUT ON "REVERSE 9-1-1": The CRTC has asked for more input on whether to allow municipalities to access 9-1-1 databases to call residents in case of emergencies, "and if so, under what circumstances and with what safeguards." To participate, notify the Commission by July 8. (See Telecom Update #439)
ITU AIMS TO "CONNECT THE WORLD" BY 2015: The International Telecommunication Union has launched Connect the World, a multi-stakeholder effort to bring telecom access to the 800,000 villages, inhabited by one billion people, that still lack a telephone. The ITU aims to connect all communities by 2015.
TELUS UNION ANNOUNCES "SUPER SERVICE": The Telecommunications Workers Union has begun a work-to-rule campaign aimed at convincing Telus to "engage in serious bargaining." Union members are urged to provide "super service to customers," obey all safety regulations, and catch up on assigned training courses.** The TWU says Telus's supplementary offer last week was "another attack on female employees," and is preparing a counteroffer. (See Telecom Update #486)
COGECO RENEWS UNION CONTRACTS: Cogeco employees in Quebec, affiliated to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, have voted to extend their contracts with the cablecos to 2008. The contracts include 2% annual pay increases.
CRTC STREAMLINES INTERNATIONAL LICENSING: The CRTC has reduced the amount of reporting required by new or already licensed international long distance carriers. New licences will be for 10-year periods, and existing licences are extended by four years from the current expiry dates.
LOCAL FORBEARANCE COMMENTS SUBMITTED: The CRTC has received first-round comments from participants in the proceeding on whether and how the incumbent telcos' local telephone service should be deregulated (see Telecom Update #479). Predictably, the incumbents' proposals would lead to earlier and more complete forbearance, while competitors want a more cautious approach.
BT FORCED TO SPIN OFF ACCESS SERVICES UNIT: BT Group has agreed to implement the British regulator's order to convert its wholesale division into an operationally separate unit, with separate physical locations, separate bonus schemes, and separate branding. The Access Services group will rent local loops to BT and competitors.
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