Canada’s telecom regulator has ruled against Telus and Bell’s applications seeking that they no longer be mandated to bill and collect on the behalf of alternate long distance service providers.
Today’s releases from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) dredge up decisions made in the early 1990s. In a 1992 decision, Unitel Communications (which changed hands a number of times and is now better known as Allstream) successfully bid to compete in the long distance markets of several Canadian carriers, effectively opening the Canadian telephone market to long distance competition.
Ultimately, Unitel failed to compete in the market it helped create, but among its lasting contributions were the rules it helped establish for wholesale telecom services.
Wholesale telecom services, for those unfamiliar with the term, are services that telecoms sell to each other.
In 1992, when the CRTC established equal access to competing long distance networks, it also mandated that incumbent local providers (often Bell or one of the larger providers) would be required to bill and collect on behalf of alternate long distance service providers.
In doing so, billing and collection service (BCS) became a mandated wholesale service for certain eligible long distance services, namely: casual long distance services (also known as 10-10 services), 900 services, collect call services and bill-to-third call services.
In June 2016, Bell submitted an application to the CRTC requesting the commission do away with this mandated wholesale service. Telus filed its own application in August that year.
Bell argued the service doesn’t meet the CRTC’s test for being an essential wholesale service, however the CRTC ultimately decided that it’s not possible to assess the (potentially negative) impact that no longer mandating this practice would have on long distance competition.
Additionally, the CRTC says BCS still contributes to the welfare of vulnerable customers and facilitates efficient network deployment.
For now, the book has been closed once again on a decades-old topic of telecom contention.