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IN THIS ISSUE:** Telecom Policy Report Expected Next Week ** Telus Sees Increase in Long Distance Theft ** New Ontario Area Code to Arrive Just in Time ** Erosion of Home Phones Accelerates ** Microsoft Reports Big Jump in IP Voice/Video ** MTS Adds Blouin to Board, Nominates Two Directors ** Bell and Telus Challenge MTS Service ** Some Terms of Nortel Settlement Okayed ** CRTC Reaffirms Order on VoIP Message Relay ** St. John's Developer Offers Push Email Software ** Telus Adds Second-Layer Spam Filtering ** Charges Laid in 500 Payphone Robberies ** Rogers Boosts Download Speed ** SaskTel Adopts Converged Messaging Platform
TELECOM POLICY REPORT EXPECTED NEXT WEEK: The three-person Telecom Policy Review panel, appointed last April, is expected to release its report in Ottawa next week. A report in the Globe & Mail says that the panel's recommendations will include more flexible regulation of the incumbent phone companies and incentives to extend broadband into unserved areas.
TELUS SEES INCREASE IN LONG DISTANCE THEFT: Telus says that hacker gangs have recently increased efforts to steal overseas long distance from businesses by hijacking voice mail boxes. Telus's security group detected almost 200 incidents in 2005, stopping about $1.5 million in illegal calls.** The telco is urging business customers to change all default passwords, eliminate unused mail boxes, and if possible to disable "through dialing" features that allow employees to call into their voice mail and then dial out of the system.
NEW ONTARIO AREA CODE TO ARRIVE JUST IN TIME: Area Code 226 is scheduled to launch as an overlay in the current 519 area (southwestern Ontario) on October 21. This is just in time: the latest Number Resource Usage survey predicts that the last remaining prefixes in 519 will be in use by January 2007.** Beginning in the week of June 17, callers in the 519 area who dial local calls using only seven digits will hear a recording advising them to dial 10 digits in future. Mandatory 10-digit local dialing will begin on October 14.
** 10-digit dialing will also be required for callers in four 705 exchanges -- Alliston, Barrie, Collingwood, and Cookstown -- when they place local calls to the 519 or 226 numbers.
EROSION OF HOME PHONES ACCELERATES: Statistics Canada says that the number of traditional residential phone lines in Canada fell 3% in the12 months preceding September 2005, the largest year-over-year drop since the numbers started falling in 2001. The number of business lines was virtually unchanged in the same period.
** The report currently sells for $23, but effective April 24 there will be no charge for Statistics Canada's electronic publications.
MTS ADDS BLOUIN TO BOARD, NOMINATES TWO DIRECTORS: Manitoba Telecom Services has appointed its CEO, Pierre Blouin, to its Board of Directors. The telco will propose that James MacDonald, Chairman of Enterprise Capital Management, and Kishore Kapoor, formerly of the wealth management firm Loring Ward, be elected to the Board at the May2 Annual General Meeting.
** In 2004, Enterprise, a hedge fund, spearheaded efforts to convert MTS into an income trust.
BELL AND TELUS CHALLENGE MTS SERVICE: Bell and Telus have separately complained to the CRTC that MTS Allstream, which signed a national contract with Public Works and Government Services Canada in February, does not have tariff approval for services to be provided under the contract in its incumbent territory, Manitoba.** Bell and Telus competed unsuccessfully for the same contract; they both obtained advance tariff approval from the CRTC for their bids. They want the Commission to prohibit MTS from providing the services until it has an approved tariff.
SOME TERMS OF NORTEL SETTLEMENT OKAYED: Nortel says it has reached agreement on some issues related to the previously announced US$2.5 billion settlement of a class action lawsuit. (See Telecom Update #516) The company's insurers have agreed to add $228.5 million toward the settlement, and Nortel will codify current governance practices, including the annual election by its directors of a non-executive chair. Settlement discussions continue.
CRTC REAFFIRMS ORDER ON VoIP MESSAGE RELAY: CRTC Decision 2006-12 reiterates the Commission's direction that all VoIP providers must provide access to Message Relay Service, which assists hearing-impaired customers.** The CISC Network Working Group reported to the CRTC in December that there are no technical obstacles preventing VoIP providers from offering MRS.
TELUS ADDS SECOND-LAYER SPAM FILTERING: Telus is now using software from Borderware Technologies to provide an additional, initial layer of filtering to screen out the most obvious spam emails. Telus says that the volume of emails on its network has increased five-fold in three years, and 80% of emails today are spam or viruses.
CHARGES LAID IN 500 PAYPHONE ROBBERIES: Two Toronto men have been charged with breaking into 518 payphones, collecting $21,500 and destroying $128,500 worth of payphone equipment.
ROGERS BOOSTS DOWNLOAD SPEED: Rogers Cable is increasing the rated speed of its basic high-speed Internet service to 5 Mbps from 3 Mbps. The cableco says the transition will be complete in a few weeks.
SASKTEL ADOPTS CONVERGED MESSAGING PLATFORM: SaskTel has deployed software from uReach Technologies that provides a single framework for wireline, wireless, and VoIP voice messaging services.
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