ARCHIVED -  Telecom Decision CRTC 85-2

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Telecom Decision

Ottawa, 4 February 1985
Telecom Decision CRTC 85-2
Use of Automatic Dialing-Announcing Devices
For related documents: see CRTC Telecom Public Notice 1984-17, 22 March 1984.
In CRTC Telecom Public Notice 1984-17, (Public Notice 1984-17), dated 22 March 1984, the Commission invited comments from interested parties on whether the use of Automatic Dialing - Announcing Devices (ADADs) should be prohibited or restricted and on the nature of any such restrictions. The public notice was issued in response to a number of complaints from subscribers of Bell Canada (Bell) and British Columbia Telephone Company (B.C. Tel) and to a request from B.C. Tel asking the Commission to prohibit or restrict the use of ADADs for commercial solicitation purposes.
The Commission received a total of 265 comments, most of them from residential telephone subscribers. The Commission also received submissions from Bell, B.C. Tel, Canadian Federation of Communications Workers and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications, as well as from a number of users, vendors and manufacturers of ADADs and their associations. These include Advanced Communications International, Canadian Business Equipment Manufacturers Association, Comprameter Systems Ltd., Comprospect Limited Telemarketing and Communications, Ontario Telemarketing Systems and Information Services, Directphone Marketing Systems Inc., Directel Marketing Canada, FMG Telecomputers Ltd. Services and the Retail Council of Canada.
Positions of Interveners
The majority of residential telephone subscribers who commented were opposed to the use of ADADs for commercial solicitation purposes. They objected to the way ADAD calls can invade the privacy of their homes and be serious nuisances. They submitted that they are paying for telephone service to make and receive calls for their own purposes and not to receive ADAD solicitation calls. Other comments received expressed concern that ADADs do not always disconnect when the called party hangs up, that telephone subscribers who have paid extra for unlisted numbers have received ADAD calls and that ADADs could tie up telephone lines unduly and pose a safety hazard in emergency situations.
There was no clear consensus expressed by the residential telephone subscribers on what action should be taken with respect to ADADs. Some recommended an outright prohibition on the use of ADADs for commercial solicitation purposes, while others recommended regulatory controls. Some of the controls suggested were the requirement of prior consent of the telephone subscriber to receive ADAD solicitation calls, the prohibition of sequential dialing, time of day limitations for ADAD calls and the requirement that ADADs must automatically disconnect when the called party hangs up.
Bell and B.C. Tel were not in favour of outright prohibition, recognizing that some public benefit might flow from the use of ADADs. However, both companies also identified a number of problems associated with the attachment of such devices to the telephone network. For example, they expressed concern about the possibility that some ADADs might not disconnect automatically when the called party hung up and that their use might cause localized network congestion or blockages. In addition, both companies stressed the need to prevent indiscriminate dialing which might result in a number of calls to emergency and social services such as police, fire and health related services. Finally, Bell and B.C. Tel noted the potential for the invasion of privacy associated with the use of ADADs.
B.C. Tel concluded that, if the Commission found that the public benefit outweighed the social and economic costs associated with ADADs, the following conditions should apply to their use: first, sequential and random dialing techniques should be prohibited and the telephone company should be authorized to terminate the service of ADAD users who breach this condition. Second, notification and information regarding network use should be provided to the telephone company prior to connection of an ADAD to the network; the telephone company should be authorized to refuse connection or to disconnect the device if it determines that its use would cause or is causing network harm. Third, the use of ADAD equipment which does not have the capability to release the line when the called party hangs up should be prohibited.
B.C. Tel suggested that, should the Commission approve the use of ADADs for residential calling, the following conditions should apply. An operator should advise the called party of the nature of the call and the identity of the caller, obtain the called party's consent to convey the message and disconnect the ADAD when the called party hangs up. In addition, the duration of messages should be limited, in case the operator is temporarily busy.
B.C. Tel identified several shortcomings associated with other types of restrictions on the use of ADADs. For example, in B.C. Tel's view, restricting ADAD calls to subscribers who are identified in the telephone directory or on a separate list as having consented to receive such calls would be both costly and difficult to enforce. In addition, B.C. Tel did not believe that restricting the time of day for ADAD calls would adequately deal with the issue of privacy.
Bell agreed that all ADADs should disconnect when the called party hangs up. Bell recommended that redialing attempts should be restricted and that ADADs should have the capability to pass over selected numbers, such as those for emergency services. Bell suggested that these standards should be developed by the Terminal Attachment Program Advisory Committee (TAPAC). In addition, Bell shared B.C. Tel's view that ADAD users should obtain the approval of the telephone company before connecting to the network and suggested that such a provision could be set out in the company's Tariff, with an appropriate charge. Finally, Bell suggested that any social policy issues associated with the use of ADADs should be dealt with by legislation.
Those using, selling or manufacturing ADADs were in general agreement with the type of restrictions proposed by Bell and B.C. Tel. For example, almost all expressed the view that sequential or random dialing should be prohibited and that the device should disconnect automatically when the called party hangs up. Several suggested further that the caller and nature of the call should be identified and the called party should be given the option of hanging up. In addition, most were of the view that the hours during which ADADs could be used should be restricted.
At the same time, all of these parties stressed the benefits that might flow from the responsible use of ADADs. For example, they noted that automatic dialing can be used for emergency, informational or charitable purposes. They suggested further that some persons find telephone solicitation desirable and would not wish to be precluded from being contacted in this manner. In addition, several pointed out that telephones are frequently used for solicitation purposes and that there is no reason to prohibit this use of telephones merely because machines are employed. Moreover, some suggested that machines offer certain social advantages, such as ensuring that there is no deviation from an approved message.
After reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of ADADs in light of the comments of those who responded to Public Notice 1984-17, the Commission has concluded that outright prohibition of the use of such devices is not desirable at this time. In reaching this conclusion, the Commission has been influenced by the beneficial use to which such devices may be put, by fire and police departments, schools, hospitals and a number of social organizations, for emergency, informational or charitable purposes. Moreover, the Commission is concerned that outright prohibition would preclude those desiring telephone solicitation, for reasons of personal choice or restricted mobility, from having access to the goods or services that may be offered. Businesses would also be prevented from making use of this new technology. Finally, the Commission considers that, at least until it has been demonstrated that reasonable safeguards are not adequate to deal with the perceived abuses associated with the use of ADADs, outright prohibition of their use is not warranted.
The Commission has therefore concluded that restrictions should be placed on the attachment of ADADs to the public switched telephone network which, while not unduly interfering with their responsible use, will serve to eliminate the types of problems associated with ADADs that do not occur with other forms of telephone solicitation. These restrictions are as follows:
1) For the purposes of this decision, a Restricted ADAD is any automatic equipment used for
telephone solicitation which incorporates the capability of storing telephone numbers to be
called, or a random or sequential number generator capable of producing numbers to be called,
and the capability, working alone or in conjunction with other equipment, to convey a
prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called.
2) Any person wishing to attach a Restricted ADAD to the facilities of a federally regulated
telephone company (telephone company) shall so advise the telephone company, in writing,
specifying the kind of ADAD to be connected and providing estimates of the volume, duration
and time distribution of calls expected to be made on a daily basis.
3) The telephone company may refuse to permit the attachment of a Restricted ADAD where it is
satisfied from the description of the planned calls that network congestion would result.
4) A Restricted ADAD shall not be used for sequential or random dialing.
5) A Restricted ADAD must be disconnected within ten (10) seconds after the called party hangs
6) Calls from a Restricted ADAD shall commence with a statement specifying the identity of the
caller, the nature of the call and that the called party may terminate the call by hanging up.
7) Calls from a Restricted ADAD may only be placed between 9:30 AM and 8:00 PM Monday
through Friday, between 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM on Saturday and between 12:00 noon and
5:00 PM on Sunday.
8) Where the called party has expressly agreed in advance, paragraphs 6 and 7 shall not apply.
9) Telephone service to a Restricted ADAD may be discontinued 5 days after notice from the
telephone company of any violation of these restrictions or 1 day after notice of a violation of
these restrictions that results in network congestion or blockage.
The Commission notes that the increased number of calls that may be made as a result of the use of ADADs may not only provide added value of service to ADAD users but add significantly greater traffic loads to the local network. In light of this concern, the Commission has decided to direct the telephone companies to file, by 1 April 1985, a report on the need for, and feasibility of, implementing a rating approach specifically for ADAD users, or classes of users.
The telephone companies are directed to file proposed tariff revisions necessary to implement the restrictions on the use of ADADs set out in this decision by 5 March 1985.
Commissioners M. Coupal, R. Gower and P. McRae find the possible economic and social advantages of ADADs do not outweigh the negative aspects to subscribers and therefore dissent from this decision.
Fernand Bélisle
Secretary General

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