ARCHIVED - Telecom Order CRTC 99-1189

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Telecom Order CRTC 99-1189

  Ottawa, 22 December 1999
  BC TEL and competitive pay telephone service providers – Restriction on length of local payphone calls
  File No.: Tariff Notice 3863
  The Commission has concluded it will not allow BC TEL or competitive pay telephone service providers to limit the length of local calls from public pay telephones.
  1. On 14 October 1998, BC TEL filed Tariff Notice (TN) 3863 proposing revisions to its Public coin telephone service General Tariff.
  2. BC TEL stated that it has been contacted by a school which has requested that the length of calls from its location's public coin telephones be curtailed. BC TEL submitted that this requirement is not unique to this one location. BC TEL proposed adding a note to the Public coin telephone service tariff specifying that at the request of a location provider, the company will limit the length of local calls made from specific locations and BC TEL shall not limit calls to a duration of less than three minutes. BC TEL proposed to post signage on or near these phones to notify callers that a time limit is in effect.
  3. BC TEL also proposed to remove the condition that requires that public coin telephones be equipped with coin boxes. BC TEL stated that today's payphones include models which accept card payments.
  4. The Commission introduced local pay telephone competition in BC TEL territory in Local pay telephone competition, Telecom Decision CRTC 98-8, dated 30 June 1998 (Decision 98-8). In that decision, the Commission also established safeguards to protect the interests of consumers in a competitive market.
  5. On 8 December 1998, the Commission issued BC TEL and competitive pay telephone service providers – Restriction on length of payphone calls, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 98-37. The Commission invited comments on BC TEL's application, including comments on whether or not any conditions should be imposed if BC TEL's application is approved.
  6. The Commission also invited comments on whether any conditions that may be imposed pursuant to that discussion should also apply to competitive pay telephone service providers (CPTSPs). The Commission also invited comments on whether, in the event that BC TEL TN 3863 is not approved, an additional safeguard should be imposed on CPTSPs prohibiting the imposition of limits on the duration of the length of calls.
  7. Comments and/or reply comments were submitted by BC TEL, Paytel Canada, Inc. (Paytel), Canadian Business Telecommunications Alliance (CBTA), Nigel David Allen, BC Old Age Pensioners' Organization, Consumers' Association of Canada (BC Branch), Council of Senior Citizens' Organizations of BC, federated anti-poverty groups of BC, Senior Citizen's Association of BC, West End Seniors' Network, End Legislated Poverty, BC Coalition for Information Access, and Tenants Rights Action Coalition (collectively BCOAPO et al.); Action Réseau Consommateur, the Consumers' Association of Canada, the National Anti-Poverty Organization and Rural Dignity of Canada (collectively PIAC); the Government of British Columbia (BCG) and Bell Canada (Bell).
  Restriction on length of payphone calls
  8. BCOAPO et al., PIAC, Nigel David Allen and CBTA opposed limiting the length of calls made from specific locations. BCG did not oppose the specific application (TN 3863), but was opposed to limitations on the length of calls from payphones available in public areas such as street boxes. Bell, BC TEL and Paytel supported the application.
  9. PIAC noted that payphones located on school premises are used by many people other than students. PIAC submitted that BC TEL's proposal to limit payphone call duration at any location upon request by the location provider is unsupported by the evidence. PIAC further submitted that BC TEL's proposal, if accepted either as presented or as modified to apply only to schools, would present a serious and detrimental precedent regarding telecommunications policy on local payphone service.
  10. The Commission considers that the use of restrictions on length of local payphone calls will be more widespread than assumed by BC TEL and the other parties to this proceeding.
  11. The Commission notes that public payphones currently in place have historically been provisioned due to public policy reasons as well as business reasons. While in Decision 98-8, the Commission determined that payphone service is not a substitute for basic service, there may be cases for example, where seasonal workers make use of payphone service as their primary form of access to the network.
  12. The Commission notes that one of its policy objectives under the Telecommunications Act is:
  7(h) to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services.
  13. The Commission finds that BC TEL and other parties who supported BC TEL's application have not adequately addressed the public policy implications noted above of BC TEL's request.
  14. In light of the above, the Commission determines it will not allow BC TEL to limit the length of local calls from a location provider's public pay telephone.
  Competitive Equity Issues
  15. Bell, BC TEL, CBTA, PIAC and BCOAPO et al. stated that whatever consumer safeguard conditions apply to BC TEL should also apply to the CPTSPs to preserve equitable conditions for all participants in the payphone market.
  16. In its reply comments, Paytel disagreed, stating that the Commission has already imposed asymmetrical regulation on CPTSPs and that application of additional restrictions on CPTSPs is not warranted as there is no evidence of unfair advantage. Paytel opposed the application of any conditions on CPTSPs.
  17. For the same reasons cited in the preceding section, the Commission determines it will not allow CPTSPs to limit the length of local calls from a location provider's public pay telephone.
  Removing condition that payphones be equipped with coin boxes
  18. BC TEL stated it is not the intent of its proposal to phase out coin-equipped pay telephones. BC TEL submitted that the intent of its application is to ensure that the company's tariffs reflect BC TEL's current practices for deploying pay telephones. For a number of years now, BC TEL has installed coinless pay telephones, often where the alternative is to have no pay telephone service at all. Coinless pay telephones are installed where limited space does not permit a full size pay telephone, where high operational costs (e.g., high coin collection costs) do not justify a coin equipped telephone or where levels of vandalism or robbery make it difficult to maintain the operation of a coin equipped pay telephone. BC TEL submitted that it wishes to modify its General Tariff to reflect this fact.
  19. Bell supported BC TEL's application. Paytel stated that it does not oppose BC TEL's application as filed.
  20. PIAC, BCOAPO et al. and BCG opposed removing the condition that requires that public pay telephones be equipped with coin boxes. CBTA also opposed this request, unless the location in question is equipped with multiple pay telephones, one of which has a coin box.
  21. The Commission considers that the proposed tariff change reflects BC TEL's current practices for deploying pay telephones. The Commission notes that other telephone companies, such as Bell and TELUS Communications Inc., do not have such a restriction in their tariffs. Accordingly, the Commission considers it appropriate to permit BC TEL to remove the tariff condition that public coin telephones be equipped with coin boxes.
  22. The Commission also notes that access to emergency services is available free of charge from all payphones, and that collect and charge to third party alternate billing arrangements are available for callers who do not have cards or coins or who call from a payphone that does not accept coins.
  23. In light of the foregoing, the Commission approves TN 3863 with the exception of BC TEL's proposed Note 2 to Item 115, Public Coin Telephone Service, which proposed limits on lengths of local calls.
  24. In addition, the Commission directs the incumbent local exchange carriers to amend their respective pay telephone access line tariffs to reflect the Commission's determination that CPTSPs should not be permitted to limit the length of local pay telephone calls. Similarly, competitive local exchange carriers are directed to include the above limitation in all contracts with CPTSPs for the provision of pay telephone service.
  Secretary General
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