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Canada moves to deregulate phone service prices

December 12, 2006
The Conservative-led government of Canada clarified yesterday that they are pushing aside current CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) authority to regulate prices on traditional phone service.

"It is time to enable consumers and businesses to benefit from retail-price deregulation of traditional local telephone service," Maxime Bernier, the Minister of Industry, said at an Ottawa press conference yesterday. "Consumers -- not a government agency -- should determine what price to pay for telephone services."

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is "still inhibiting competition beyond what is necessary," he added.

The regulations objectionable to Bernier include statutes that mandate that phone companies demonstrate to the CRTC that they have lost at least 25% of market share to competitors in a specific geographic area before they can lower prices.

The revised guidelines would sweep aside that provision, in favor of on that would require firms to show there is more than one retail wireline provider in a market, as well as three phone providers -including cable and cell-based providers. Business telco services would only need to prove the presence of two wireleline providers.  

The Canadian government said it will publish its proposed policy in the Canada Gazette. After publication, interested parties will have 30 days to respond.

If all goes well, these new stipulations may result in lower prices within Canada's major markets as early as this February.

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