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VoIP Services to be Regulated in Canada 159

Posted by timothy
from the hand-of-the-state dept.
jeffcm writes "It seems that the CRTC, Canada's equivalent to the FCC has decided that VoIP pricing and services should be regulated. From The Globe & Mail: "The CRTC confirmed that it has rejected arguments from Bell and Telus that VoIP should be left unregulated like other on-line applications. If their argument had won the day, their competitors say, the incumbent phone companies would have been allowed to limit the number of new entrants by slashing prices in the short term.""
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VoIP Services to be Regulated in Canada

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  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:22PM (#12494256)
    Regardless of the merits of regulating (or not regulationg) VoIP, at the core I'm uncomfortable with the idea of regulating specific types of Internet traffic ... kind of a change from the traditional egalitarian data-cloud "all packets are equal" ideal. I haven't really thought this out, but I just have a bad feeling about it.
    • by Trepalium (109107) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:25PM (#12494282)
      I don't believe this is regulating VoIP as much as it is regulating VoIP subscription services. In this context, they are not regulating the internet traffic but rather the internet businesses.
      • While it may be a business, it isn't something like amazon. There are data being transfered, and when data are regulated, then other packets may be designated inferior. The fear that VoIP packets will be given priority service [pbs.org] on home networks was mentionted on /. [slashdot.org] a few months ago. Whether or not Canada is trying to help this or prevent it is yet to be seen.
        • The article didn't say anything about packet prioritization.

          I think Amazon is a good analogy. Amazon advertises over the Internet, but they aren't exempt from false advertising laws. They also aren't exempt from sales tax (in some states). etc.
          • Amazon advertises over the Internet, but they aren't exempt from false advertising laws.

            False advertising laws serve some purpose though. There once was a time in Canada where all the telephone companies were government owned (I think all of them anyway). There was a great need for the CRTC to prevent abuse by the state monopoly. VOIP will bring almost unlimited competition to the market. I'm not sure if we need to be protected from an expanding free market. I guess it remains to be seen exactly ho
            • "There was a great need for the CRTC to prevent abuse by the state monopoly"

              There might not be a state monopoly anymore, but the home phone business is definatly still controlled by monopolies. Unless you live in one of the largest cities in the country, there is virtually zero competition. Anywhere that I have lived, the only local phone company has been bell canada. Its the same pretty much all over Ontario. Long distance service is a different matter.

              However much I might agree with you in principa

              • Anywhere that I have lived, the only local phone company has been bell canada.

                That situation is improving [ccnmatthews.com] though. I'm a big fan of Shaw's Internet after suffering through Telus DSL in Edmonton, and MTS DSL here in Winnipeg (which is absolutely the worst service I have ever seen). I'm looking forward to switching my phone over as soon as I can.
            • Just to clarify: The government didn't own the phone companies, but they had a state-granted monopoly. The reason for this is that a monopoly can be given a mandate to provide phone service for everyone, including unprofitable customers in hard-to-reach residential areas, and they can subsidize this cost with income from other customers. This would be impractical or impossible if there had been multiple phone companies.
        • To even think that legislation will be technical enough to mandate or change traffic prioritization seems naive to me. In fact, if anything, it seems much more likely companies will be doing this, along the same lines as the age old question: If Car Maker A made roads, would they only let Car Maker A cars on?

          Mind you, I realize that lobbiests are always trying to make the law enforce technical means of market tampering, but that to me would suggest that the big companies would WANT regulation .. if the gov
      • In terms of regulating Internet businesses.... ...don't anyone wet their pants or get a woody because this will provide a method for sticking it to the big, bad phone companies and bypass the high prices, rules & regulations, entrance laws & prices, just remember...those big, bad phone companies have big-ass PACs, political connections, and any other form of resource which would help define a plutocracy. And most of all, don't think they are going to take this lying down. The 911 issue is nothing -
    • Every country regulates their phone system. Using the internet to bypass regulations governing the phone system wasn't going to last. If people want unregulated phone-type service, they can use their computer with a headset and mike. Why regulate? Because in modern life, in our hemisphere, like it or not, phone service is an essential service.

      Bad news too, the unregulated internet is on borrowed time. It's already happening.
    • Regulating Crime (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby (173196)
      They're regulating the service quality of telephony, an essential service upon which Canadian society depends. If they don't, VoIP will displace more reliable circuits with unreliable ones. And then catastrophe will occur when people find out just how unreliable is their unregulated service.

      There are laws against fraud, which phishing and 419 scams (for example) violate. Those laws don't regulate "the Internet" per se - they regulate the transactions, which use the Internet to reach victims. The Internet i
    • The internet traffic is not being regulated, only where the VoIP system interfaces with the PSTN.

      In other words, if you create a PC to PC pure-VoIP system (or an ATA to ATA VoIP system and use analog phones on both ends), no regulation applies.

      However, as soon as you want to interface with the PSTN system and get NANP numbers assigned, you have to agree to regulation.
  • by Dark Coder (66759) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:23PM (#12494260)
    This regulation is equivalent of a slippery tube child toy such as this [imperialtoy.com]

    It's harder to get a grip on, much less tax on it.
  • Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:25PM (#12494280) Journal
    Kinda confused about this VoIP crap - if a company is offering a service, for a price which involves you having some sort of phone-like device plugged into a socket in your home, then it is a phone, no-matter if it goes through the old phone system, the cell-system, the Internet, a satellite or some sort of magick pixie communication system. If you're talking about some sort of free software that connects to someone's IP directly using your existing net-connection or uses distributed routing or whatever than thats basically instant messaging with some voice-feature, what are you going to regulate? AIM?
    • The problem is that, fundamentally, there is no difference between the two. My phone is plugged into my cable modem. So is my computer. What's the difference between the two? I can get voice on either.
      • There is no difference, and no regulation proposed on either. The regulation only applies when you add the ability to dial to and/or receive calls from the PSTN.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:28PM (#12494306)
    It seems pretty obvious to me that shared public resources (physical lines connecting private property together) may need to be regulated to prevent monopolies, while anything that isn't intrinsically limited (multiple protocols over the internet) doesn't need such regulation.

    The only reason for the regulation, after all, is to permit competition. Right?

    With the VoIP regulation debate, this dichotomy between limited and unlimited resources is often overlooked, when it's actually the only important issue.

    The physically shared and limited public connections should be regulated to prevent monopoly. Purely software protocols should be completely immune to regulation.
    • Um .... if you regulate them, then you create monopolies. The problem is not monopolies per se, but is instead monopoly prices. If they don't charge monopoly prices (reduced production -> higher demand for less product -> unmet demand but more profit), then there's no problem with a monopoly. Alcoa was a monopoly, but they just kept lowering their prices. This angered their competitors so much that they lobbied Congress to investigate their "monopoly practices". But monopolies aren't regulated to
      • Regulation, at least in it's early stages, can often benefit an industry and thereby its' consumers. In this particular case the government intends to thwart the wholesale takeover of VoIP as a public service by the dominant telcos.

        If we admit that VoIP is the future of telephonic communication then we must also agree that entrenched companies offering what is, to the layman, the exact same service, will undoubtedly slash prices to gain penetration until the market is saturated and then begin hiking prices
        • But then you have situations like the airline industry where the players becaome dependent on government entities to survive and in fact, seem to design their business plans into getting government handouts. Besides, the barrier to entrer in the voip market are small enough that the big players will always have to keep their prices fairly low, lest a startup with lower overhead comes in and ruins their day.
          • Well, the barrier to entry, i.e. being able to operate a VoIP company is indeed low, but the barrier to competing with a telco who can charge less and market themselves more until you're out of business is insurmountable.

            As for the airlines, I'm not sure why everyone is crying foul so fast. Not that I'm personally agreeing with it, but the theory of having direct taxation supporting a popular government includes said government ensuring the availability, affordability and reliability of what are perceived
        • Regulation, at least in it's early stages, can often benefit an industry and thereby its' consumers.

          I think you actually believe that this is generally true! In this context, the government has already screwed up the telecommunications market, so fiddling with the existing regulations is probably a good idea. Better, though, would be no regulations (other than the usual "thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not bear false witness.")
          -russ
      • You don't seem to get it. I've never heard of Alcoa, but Microsoft was "giving away" a lot of stuff like IE and Media Player to the detriment of competitors like Netscape and Real. Are you next going to argue that the regulators cracked down on the practice to protect us from getting this stuff for free?

        Getting back to the topic at hand... if you're going to allow your VOIP service to communicate both ways (inbound and outbound calls) with people using POTS telephones, you need to bridge the gap. That m
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The only reason for the regulation, after all, is to permit competition. Right?

      No. The primary raison d'etre of the CRTC is to ensure that a shared, national resource (originally radio spectrum) is used in such way that canadians as a whole benefit.

      Yes, time has marched on and telecommunications no longer require airwaves, but the CRTC is still there.
  • hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by merdark (550117) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:29PM (#12494314)
    What does this mean for free services such as Skype, or even voice chat for games and such?
    • by kalayq (827594)
      Skype and the like are free, so there are no prices to regulate.
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@t[ ]-co.org ['pno' in gap]> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:35PM (#12494357) Homepage
      Nothing. The regulation is not referring to pure VoIP, but rather the interface to the POTS system with VoIP.

      In short, if you resell normal phone service delivered with VoIP tech, you will be regulated. Resistance is futile.
    • Re:hmm (Score:4, Informative)

      by kesuki (321456) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:05PM (#12494549) Journal
      Skype has a free voip program, and a paid service called skypeout. The 'free' program allows you to connect to other voip users over the internet.
      to make a pots connection with this voip software you need thier service called Skype out. Skype out serive will be regulated, should they try to operate in canada. the basic, free software will not be. As the basic free software simply allows two computers to send voice data over the internet to each other. In order to call a land line, or to allow a land line to call you, you need to pay for the skypeout service.

      • Only monopolies will be regulated, i.e. Bell Canada, Telus, etc.

        Skype, while very popular, is not a telco monopoly.
    • voice chat for games and such?

      It'll be regulated just as much as existing cell phone company laws regulate walkie-talkies.
  • by MrAndrews (456547) <(ac.9881) (ta) (mcm)> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:29PM (#12494318) Homepage
    I could be wrong, but a line in the actual article makes it sound like they're reducing Bell and Telus' ability to treat VoIP as a loss-leader, basically making it impossible for other players like Vonage or Shaw to compete. It's not that they're regulating broadly, they're just warning Bell and Telus that they're being watched, and they can't shut out competition but charging $0.50/month for VoIP. Still not ideal, but a lot less terrible than it seems at first.
  • It seems like they plan to regulate the pricing by setting a minimum price that the companies must charge. But how will this affect small companies that can legitimately offer a lower rate through better technology, such as, perhaps, Skype?
  • Skype? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279)
    Where does Skype fit in this environment? It's already working [for me and my buddies]. I doubt the Canadian government will get anywhere on this. The bureaucracy is just too much...and technology is just too fast. We are already operating under "out-dated" telecom laws.
    • Don't underestimate the ability of the Canadian government to CREATE involved in bureaucracy. We've got a long history of it up here. Our public works department lost over a $1 Billion in a variety of programs; a $25 Million gun control database has now cost over $1 Billion. An entire ministry exists at the Federal level to push money around in a system which is, by definition, controlled at the provincial level.

      Yes, we're pretty good at creating bureaucracy when we try. The CRTC isn't even our most heinou
    • Where does Skype fit in this environment? It's already working [for me and my buddies]. I doubt the Canadian government will get anywhere on this. The bureaucracy is just too much...and technology is just too fast. We are already operating under "out-dated" telecom laws.

      For you as an end user, I doubt anything would change. At most, you'd probably see an increase in your Skype-out costs, if you use it. For PC-to-PC, nothing will change, I'm sure (that meaning, my opionion :-)).

  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:36PM (#12494364)
    It appears that Bell and Telus (Canadas two largest telphone companies) were against regulation. Is it possible that a lack of regulation would have permitted Telus and Bell to pull some shenannigans with respect to Shaw / Rogers (two cable TV and cable internet providers) VOIP customers attempting to call POTS customers of Telus and Bell?

    Also, for those whom compare this to regulating AOL Instant Messenger, the difference, I think, is that you cannot use that sort of client's voice capability to speak to someone using a simple telephone. The entire point of VOIP is that you can.

    END COMMUNICATION
  • by ashitaka (27544) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:38PM (#12494376) Homepage
    This ruling has little to do with technology and more to do with business and competition. Skype, FWD et. al. will still be able to offer their free services (which are actually financed by advertising and other means).

    This will allow new companies to start offering value-added, non-PSTN phone service without being shut out by the two current major phone service providers using artifically low prices.

    Basically, a Good Thing because competition is good.
    • Um .... and what happens when somebody comes along who can charge less than the minimum price and still make a profit? Their competition is good for the consumer, but will be outlawed. Basically, this is anti-consumer and pro-producer legislation. The Canadian legislature is contemplating screwing the Canadian citizen. But why should that surprise anybody?
      -russ
      • Um .... and what happens when somebody comes along who can charge less than the minimum price and still make a profit?

        Then the "unfair" price will be adjusted downwards. The whole point of the regulation is to prevent what is known in other industries as "dumping", i.e. using size and profitability in other (usually monopolized) markets to outlast a smaller, specialized competitor in a niche market by writing off the losses in this small market which the competitor cannot afford to. In other words: to st

        • Then the "unfair" price will be adjusted downwards.

          You are very optimistic concerning the operation of government. If I told you that companies don't work very well and are terribly inefficient, would you believe me? For all the same reasons, governments don't work very well either.
          -russ
          • You are very optimistic concerning the operation of government.

            No I am not. However this particular piece of CRTC activity is of minor impact on the industry and affects only the two major incumbant telcos. It also makes provisions for other more important stuff such as 911 call handling, lack of which already resulted in lost lives. As I said, I personally believe that the measures of this sort are too weak and require micro-managment on the part of regulators (and thus expose the process to inefficiency

            • important stuff such as 911 call handling, lack of which already resulted in lost lives.

              Ask around for 911 horror stories. There are PLENTY of times when 911 service doesn't work. Example: when my friend down the road from me nearly cut his thumb off with a chop saw, he ran into the house and called 911. No answer! So he called his secretary, whom he knew would be available to call the hospital for him.

              And this has nothing to do with VOIP.

              its apparent state of equilibrium being an all-poweful oliga
              • There are PLENTY of times when 911 service doesn't work.

                Are you suggesting that this is a reason to not regulate 911 service? To allow some providers to route to, say, a veterinary clinic when you dial 911? I am not sure what are you proposing.

                Honestly, where do you people get this idea from

                Observation coupled with logical reasoning. In my reply to your other post I indicated several mechanisms by which these things happen. There are many many more. Simply put, in an "efficient" free market, you would


        • The whole point of the regulation is to prevent what is known in other industries as "dumping", i.e. using size and profitability in other (usually monopolized) markets to outlast a smaller, specialized competitor in a niche market by writing off the losses in this small market which the competitor cannot afford to.

          Back in reality, it turns out that companies that try to maintain a monopoly in this manner (predatory pricing) usually never make money on this tactic. It costs them more to maintain their m
          • Back in reality, it turns out that companies that try to maintain a monopoly in this manner (predatory pricing) usually never make money on this tactic. It costs them more to maintain their monopoly than they can ever recoup through higher prices.

            This is a common mis-conception. It would be true if the markets truly operated as Adam Smith envisioned. But they dont. In a true, "efficient", market, the well-informed and educated (ha!) consumers would always choose based on price/performance ratio and barrier

    • I perceive this to be anti-competitive as well. The major two phone companies couldn't offer "artificially low" prices forever. And now they don't have to.
  • Keep those pesky damm old farts out of it.

    The CRTC does more damage than good, why do we need a bunch of crusty old farts telling us what is and what isn't good.

    The reason for all those extra charges on the phone bill is because the CRTC said the telephone companies could do it.

    CRTC is also screwing everybody with regards to TV pricing, Digital services are now conditional access, IE it is now technically possible to subscribe to indvidual channels. However, in the CRTC's infinite wisdom we must buy our
    • Re:Oh no not again! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Nos. (179609)
      CRTC, for the most part, I agree, is not a benefit to Canadians, however, they have done some good things, and don't do somethings you suggest they do. They recently [jointheweb.org] made sure 911 was provided by VoIP providers. They have nothing to do with subscribing to the channels you want. My TV provider allows me to pick the channels I want individually if I choose. Most providers do packages so they can earn more profits. Some of those extra charges on your phone bill are the result of regulations on telecom NOT
    • Re:Oh no not again! (Score:4, Informative)

      by SerialEx13 (605554) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:03PM (#12494540)
      People have done what you have mentioned. However, it requires purchasing equipment and setting things up yourself.

      The CRTC has nothing to do with your lack of being able to buy channels individually (with the exception of requiring a certain number of those channels to be Canadian). It is the cable/satellite companies that put them into budles. Most cable/satellite companies allow you to purchase digital channels separately.

      With analogue cable, the reason they are in bundles is because you just can't flip a switch and enable access to them. They have to go out to your place and setup the connection. It is just easier -- and cheaper for them -- to offer three or so packages than to offer 50 individual channels.

      I suggest you read the CRTC website which explains in detail about your beefs. If you are still not happy, file a complaint with them. They surprisenly do go through those things and respond.
      • (with the exception of requiring a certain number of those channels to be Canadian).

        I despise these Canadian content regulations that we've got... the billion that we're forced to fork over to the CBC each year should be more than enough IMO to encourage Canadian content
  • by Rixel (131146)
    Also, new content rules will require that at least 40% of all conversation must have Canadian Content.

    So no more yakking about last night's Desparate Housewives.

    The first bunch of X-Files years are okay though...they were created in Canada.
  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:57PM (#12494503) Homepage
    I just got Asterisk@Home 1.0 up and running last night, and I was researching Canadian VOIP providers (specifically on Vancouver Island). I found, to my surprise that almost all of them support MGCP and not SIP.

    Apparently, Asteriks works great with SIP, but is a real beast with MGCP...

    So personally I hope that this regulation brings in smaller players who support SIP and will allow me to hook up a local VOIP connection in Victoria...

    As an aside - are there any Canadian (preferably in B.C.) users of Asterisk out there who are running a good VOIP setup? If so, what provider do you use?
    • I'm getting a setup from these folks in Coquitlam: www.mxunetworks.com, they do mostly commercial buildings and have an office in Victoria. They work with asterisk and use SIP phones.

      I hope that helps. =)

      Xtrvd.
      Customer of above company.
    • No I am using www.spectravoice.com they use SIP or IAX and will give you the settings to use any device as you see fit. you need to fill out a form saying you agree to there terms for using your own device. They have a few exchanges in canada mainly in ontario / quebec i think i dont remember i have a 416 number. it was a pain getting it since they are all french really and i dont speak it but i got it working and its great... other then that yea most use mgcp go to www.voip-info.org and look up providers
  • RTFA...

    The CRTC, with their infinite wisdom, only want to price regulate the incumbent phone companies to prevent them from squashing competition from smaller players.

    The issue I see with this is that those "other players" are basically huge multi billion dollar cable companies. Don't kid yourself, the CRTC WANTS to see Bell and Telus loose a good chunck of their business and then they might lift their regulation stronghold.

    Personally I think it's not a good idea to regulate any form of Internet based t
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:04PM (#12494546) Homepage
    Those who support regulation of VoIP often say that interaction with POTS as the reason why regulation is warranted. On that line of thinking, if some company created a VoIP system that does not interact with POTS, should it still be subject to regulation? Likewise, if POTS should become obsolete an be replaced by VoIP systems, would regulation still be justified?
    • When it comes to public safety then yes. Not sure about the system in Canada. Considering the mishaps that have happend with VoIP phones and ppl attempting to dial 911 here in the States I believe that regulation is something that is needed in how the systems tie in with POTS network and routing.
      • If I create an application that allows me to engage in voice communications with another person on the Internet, such an application would probably not fall under the authority of telco regulations. If that is the case, then why should attaching a phone-like device to such an application suddenly make it subject to regulation?
        • I think most people can logically separate that from the PSTN network, particularly when you consider that you need a computer up and running to communicate at all (although, if you visit Skype's forums, it's confusing to many there).

          If, however, you lump Skype-out and Skype-in (still beta) with the base probram, you're dealing with the PSTN again. That's where it gets fuzzy. Personally, I don't think it should be fuzzy. I think you should be charged whatever extra for accessing the PSTN. Maybe that'l

  • From the article:
    Mr. Grant also said VoIP will open up the telephone services market to greater competition. "Ten years ago, you needed a trillion dollars to get into this business -- now you need $20,000."
    I had no idea the Canadian dollar was that weak!
  • As a Canadian I can assure you I have no love loss for the CRTC. They have screwed up more technology related businesses then Bill Gates.

    What I find interesting is their reasoning for their ruling. To keep the big guys in check so they don't squash the lil' guys with their legislated monopolies. WTF!

    What about Microsoft Canada or Union Energy (DUKE Energy) or any number of legislated monopolies that the Canadian government has allowed for decades and done NOTHING about let alone regulate them to protect c
  • loopholes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447)
    What if a company offers POTS connection through a switchboard/extension type system - instead of you actually getting a real phone number, you get an extension number. People call a main number for that VoIP company and then enter the extension - is that technically regulatable? Not sure how it would work for dialling out...
  • I personally think voip is overpriced when compared to pots IF you do not make a lot of long distance calls. Most of my calls are in my area code. I looked over voip and it costs about the same as pots in this regard (maybe a saving of 5 - 10 bucks tops).

    I was surprised when voip first came out and you see prices like 29.99 - 34.99 etc. I thought wtf, these companies are in a sense piggy backing on other companies providing high speed to you.

    Vonage and them are just providing a termination service. So
  • I have no love for the CRTC at the best of times, but this decision was welcomed by the smaller players like Shaw, Vonnage, etc. because it allows them to enter the market with a competitive price structure and not worry that the incumbent carriers (Telus or Bell) would swoop in and offer similar service at a fraction of the cost. In essence, killing off the competition with artificially low priced service.

    Shaw just recently began offering their VoIP service in Calgary and Edmonton at $55/month for unlimit
    • Considering the kind of undercutting that the Telcos and cable companies in Canada have done in the Internet end of things, wiping out many smaller ISPs, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. Quite frankly they're crooked operators, and for the telcos to start whining about VoIP is the height of hypocrisy. I can't believe anybody gives the guys the time of day when they start with these arguments.
  • The CRTC is the reason: -i pay 6,95$ "system access fees" EXTRA from my cell package. And they don't advertise that fee simply because CRTC doesn't ask them to. -why we're stuck with CPAC (par"liar"ment channel) APTN (Aboriginal chan). -That we have to choose à least 50% canadian content channels on cable packages. -THAT THE SUPERBOWL IS STUCK WITH VERY BAD CANADIAN ADS. -That XM and Sirius are taking soo long to get legally around (Announcements about this coming this week!) -At least 50% canadian con
    • The CRTC is the reason: -i pay 6,95$ "system access fees" EXTRA from my cell package.

      Since you clearly believe everything that a salesman tells you, I have a bridge spanning the Burrard Inlet that I'm not using that you may be interested in. I'm asking $1000, which is a huge bargain because you could put a toll booth at each end and charge people $10.00 to drive on it - you'll make your money back in less than a year.
  • by isdnip (49656) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @10:45PM (#12495141)
    The Slashdot cover story gets it wrong. The CRTC is not regulating all VoIP providers. It is regulating Incumbent telephone companies.

    There are two types of local phone companies. Incumbents were given legal monopolies until recently, with Canada following the USA in opening up competition. So Bell Canada, Aliant, Telus and Sasktel are Incumbents in Canada. They all have much more than a 50% market share. This is generally accepted as giving them monopoly power -- the ability to set prices in a manner that no competitor can equal.

    All other telephone companies are Competitive. They are startups, or at least new to the phone business. In the USA, the term of art is CLEC, and they range from big cable companies down to one-man shops. (I personally know some of the latter.) They have no market power to speak of. Vonage is not a phone company, at least under US rules, but it does provide something resembling local phone service. (Technically it's reselling the services of other CLECs, such as Focal and Paetec.)

    The CRTC decided (it's not formally out yet) that Incumbent local phone companies, whose prices are regulated because they have monopoly power, cannot offer VoIP services at unregulated prices. They can't offer cut-rate service that puts their competitors out of business (remember John D. Rockefeller -- sell cheap until the competitor is gone, then raise the price big time). EVERYBODY ELSE can do as they please. Shaw, Rogers, Vonage, Broadvoice, Yukon Dave's Trading Post and Telephone Service Company -- they can offer VoIP withut price regulation.

    The CRTC is doing a far better job than the US FCC has been doing over the past few years. This decision is quite reasonable.
    • Mod parent up, please!

      This is really GOOD news.
      Bell's customer service SUCKS. They're a monopoly (in Quebec), and they know it.

      This regulation (once official) will open up the market to competitors. Already, I have a number in 514 that's "non-bell", for $2.50/month (and 1.1c/min to Montreal and major hubs in Ontario). Bell's service is 20 times that (but offers a flat rate for local calls).

      Price regulation (in a price-fixed, over-monopolized market) is a GOOD thing.

      S
  • We need to move beyond VoIP to something that escapes the legacy of the old dialed phone system. That something would be like VoIP, but instead of using phone numbers in the usual way, you use IP addresses and communicate directly. Of course we would not literally use IP addresses to "dial" who we want to speak to; we'd use domain names. You get a domain name, or subdomain name, or whatever. Get a registered domain name, or just a subdomain from some dynamic IP service. And of course it should have str

    • Hm, something like Instant Messaging? But with Voice? I think that already exists.. ;-)
      If only GAIM had voice capabilities, you just convince people to leave it on all the time, and make it "ring" when someone tries to initiate a conversation. Get a telephone-like USB interface that installs itself as a microphone/speaker in your computer and you have a VOIP system disguised as an instant messenger. You could even have it record messages when you're not home!

      As far as I can tell the only reason people
  • VOIP should still have a lot of room to move on prices, even though you can currently get VOIP for $10/month with 500 minutes from Comwave.net.
    To compare apple to apples, Shaw's $55 service is Vonage's $40 or Comwave's $30.
    So we already have healthy competition.
    Unless you set the minimum to something less than $10, how will this new regulation benefit Canadians if you force companies to raise that price?

    Pigs get slaughter, whores get...
    Telus is a legal monopoly owning all Yellow pages advertising and if no
  • I suspect this will not affect IP-only voice communications, but only services that involve voice-to-IP gateways.

    I still am not convinced it's the right thing to do, but I think it's probably fairly harmless and I can understand why they are doing it.
  • Rogers, again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @03:39AM (#12496683) Homepage Journal
    So the CRTC has been convinced that VOIP should be regulated.

    By Rogers, the dominant Cable company (and thus data supplier).

    Since Rogers sells the data pipe, what is the additional "surcharge" needed to support VOIP? Yes, the sale/rental of the converter.

    Now, Bell has been told (by the CRTC) that they can't just sell you the VOIP adaptor.

    Because... that would hurt Rogers business.

    Its a big win by Rogers. Makes them a "Bell" in that they are protected now too.

    What IS the value of VOIP (pricing). Why is is NOT a few pennies a month, to support some QOS infrastructure? I pay Rogers for 60GB of traffic a month (used to be unlimited) -- why can't I use that for voice communications? 3 hours of talk a day, compressed, would be 30MB of traffic. Just data.

    Is there another reason why Rogers is concerned about WHAT the data is? Oh, yeah, I remember... they are a phone company too (cell phones). So, VOIP would be a great way to charge a LOT more for that 30MB per day.

    Ratboy
  • So the market needs to be regulated since otherwise price wars will lead to a monopoly? Is there any evidence of this ever happening? As far as I can see, the monopolies of this world are either due to government regulation (Government phone and power companies, Swedish alcohol and gambling monopoly), expensive infrastructure (US phone and power companies), customer lock-in (Microsoft) or a truly superiour product (Google).

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