Telecom Update #556, November 24, 2006

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556: November 24, 2006

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** CRTC Allows Price Ranges for Local Services ** SaskTel Cuts VoIP Price in Saskatchewan ** Telecom Exports Rise ** Bell Aliant Lowers Nordiq Bid ** Canada Called a Better Host for Banking Transfers ** More WNP Implementation Rules Approved ** Feds to Cut Out One Cellco ** Telecom Places Eight Women Among 100 "Most Powerful" ** Cablecos, Telcos Unite on Broadcast Fees ** RIM Buys Management Software Developer ** Dell Notebooks to Offer Telus Modems ** Expertech Denies Closure Threat ** Moody's Raises Bell Rating ** UBS Posts Decline in Revenue, Losses ** Correction


2006-75, the CRTC says it is willing to approve price ranges, rather than single prices, for most local services offered by the incumbent telcos. Previously this had been allowed only for certain VoIP services. (See Telecom Update #520)

** The upper and lower limit of a price range will be confidential. The telco can change prices within the range at will, but must issue a revised tariff page on the day the new rate takes effect.

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SASKTEL CUTS VoIP PRICE IN SASKATCHEWAN: Responding quickly to the Cabinet-ordered deregulation of access-independent local VoIP service (see Telecom Update #555), SaskTel has begun offering its $15.95/month WebCall Basic service in Regina, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon. That package and price was previously offered only to customers outside the province.

Other competitive developments in Saskatchewan:

** Access Communications Cooperative, which has 80,000 Cable TV customers in Saskatchewan, plans to offer a digital phone service, based on MTS Allstream VoIP technology, within two years.

** Shaw Communications is now offering its Digital Phone service in Saskatoon at an introductory price of $29.95/month.

** SaskTel's IP-based TV service now has more than 50,000=20 customers.

TELECOM EXPORTS RISE: The Export Development Corporation says Canada's exports of communications equipment will grow by 4% in 2006, building on gains of 13.7% in 2005 and 11.2% in 2004. The rise is "all the more remarkable," EDC says, in view of the 30% increase in Canada's dollar during these years.

** In 2005, 69% of telecom exports went to the U.S.

BELL ALIANT LOWERS NORDIQ BID: Bell Aliant has reduced its offer to purchase the 36.4% of Bell Nordiq Income Fund units it does not already own, from $19 to $15.36 -- $4 in cash and 0.4113 of a Bell Aliant unit. (See Telecom Update #550)

CANADA CALLED A BETTER HOST FOR BANKING TRANSFERS: A European Union monitoring agency says that the Swift banking transfer consortium has breached the EU's privacy rules by giving the U.S. government access to records of private financial transactions in Europe. Several European lawmakers have called on Swift to safeguard European civil liberties by transferring its U.S. operations to Canada.

MORE WNP IMPLEMENTATION RULES APPROVED: CRTC Telecom Decision 2006-74 approves three consensus reports filed by CISC on Wireless Number Portability, in preparation for WNP implementation on March 17, 2007. (See Telecom Update #511, 530)

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FEDS TO CUT OUT ONE CELLCO: The federal government has issued an RFP for a new contract on its cellphone and PDA services, to begin in March

2007. The contract will awarded to two carriers instead of the current three. Since Wireless Number Portability begins in March, it should be possible for the losing bidder's numbers to be ported to the winners.

TELECOM PLACES EIGHT WOMEN AMONG 100 "MOST POWERFUL": The Women's Executive Network's 2006 list of the most powerful women in Canada, announced this week, includes eight women from the telecommunications industry: Isabelle Courville, Karen Sheriff, and Martine Turcotte (Bell Canada); Karen Radford, Judy Shuttleworth, and Janet Yale (Telus); Cathy MacDonald (Rogers); and the late Elaine Minacs (Minacs Worldwide).

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CABLECOS, TELCOS UNITE ON BROADCAST FEES: Canada's major phone companies have joined with Rogers and the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (a cableco purchasing group) to protest a bid by some broadcasters to charge fees to distributors that carry local channels. The collective cited a survey showing that 81% of TV subscribers do not want to pay $5 a month more for this purpose.

** More surprisingly, 84% of survey respondents had heard of the CRTC. And even more surprising, 12% were in favour of paying $5 more and "getting nothing extra for it."

RIM BUYS MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE DEVELOPER: Research In Motion has bought Epoch Integration Inc, a Toronto company that makes management software tools for the BlackBerry enterprise service. The purchase price was not disclosed.

DELL NOTEBOOKS TO OFFER TELUS MODEMS: Dell Canada has agreed to include modems providing access to Telus's EVDO high-speed wireless service in some of the computer maker's lines of notebooks and mobile workstations.

EXPERTECH DENIES CLOSURE THREAT: Last week we reported a union statement that Bell was threatening to close its Expertech subsidiary if contract negotiations didn't lead to major concessions. A company spokesman subsequently told Telecom Update that although the company needs to reduce labour costs, "there are no threats from Bell to close Expertech."

MOODY'S RAISES BELL RATING: Moody's Investors Service has changed its rating outlook for Bell Canada to "stable" from "negative" on the basis of BCE's announcement last month that the holding company will be wound down and merged into Bell. (See Telecom Update #531)

UBS POSTS DECLINE IN REVENUE, LOSSES: Unique Broadband Systems, owner of Look Communications, had sales of $29.9 million for the year ended August 31, down 21% from the previous year. Net loss: $3.6 million. UBS pins its hopes on selling its licensed spectrum and mobile broadcast licence. (See Telecom Update #538)

CORRECTION: Last week we incorrectly stated that Cabinet has not overruled the CRTC since 1988. In fact, the CRTC has been reversed on telecom matters at least twice since then, most recently in 1996 when Cabinet ruled that competing directory publishers must have the same access to telephone listings as the telcos. (See Telecom Update #42)



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John Riddell
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