‘Ottawa’ Bell Canada Wants to Axe Discount on Payphone Lines, no Longer Views Service as Essential
Bell Canada sees no good reason to continue offering payphone lines at a lower price than regular business lines, as it no longer views the service as essential in a society dominated by mobile phones.
Bell is asking Canada’s telecom regulator to stop following a nearly 20-year-old regulation that forces it to provide pay telephone access lines at a 25 per cent discount to business lines, according to an application filed last month with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
It argues that because more than 80 per cent of Canadians have access to wireless service, which is available in 99.3 per cent of the country, out-of-home calls will remain competitive even if payphone operators pay business rates for the lines.
In order to accommodate vulnerable Canadians who rely on payphones it is not asking for changes to consumer safeguards or to increase the price from 50 cents.
Incumbents such as Bell are still the primary provider of payphones despite attempts to make the service more competitive, according to Bell. Its revenue from payphone lines has dropped 55 per cent drop since 2008, with payphone call volumes decreasing at an average annual rate of 19 per cent in Ontario and Quebec.
The CRTC expects the annual rate of payphone removal to increase to 15 per cent in 2016 from six per cent in 2008.
The public has until July 28 to submit comments to the CRTC regarding Bell’s request.