Telecom Decision CRTC 2003-61
Ottawa, 10 September 2003
Part VII application by the Advocates for Sight Impaired Consumers to amend TELUS Communications Inc. General Tariff item 308, Operator Services
In this decision, the Commission directs TELUS Communications Inc. (TCI) to file proposed tariff revisions allowing for an exemption from the automatic directory assistance call completion (ADACC) charge for its customers with special needs.
The Commission also orders Bell Canada and Thunder Bay Telephone to show cause, within 30 days of the date of this decision, as to why they should not be required to implement an exemption for the ADACC charge under terms similar to those specified by the Commission for TCI.
1. The Commission received an application from the Advocates for Sight Impaired Consumers (ASIC), dated 27 February 2003, filed pursuant to Part VII of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure. ASIC noted that it is an independent consumer-driven advocacy coalition, which addresses issues that affect blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind consumers residing in the Greater Vancouver Area.In the application, ASIC requested that the Commission direct TELUS Communications Inc. (TCI) to amend General Tariff item 308, Operator Services, to exempt the registered blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind TCI customers (disabled customers) from the automatic directory assistance call completion (ADACC) service charge of $0.35 per call.
2. ASIC noted that although TCI's tariff allows disabled customers to take advantage of operator-assisted call completion at no charge, the existing process requires them to place two separate telephone calls to TCI's operators. First, disabled customers must call the directory assistance operator to obtain the telephone numbers they require and once they have obtained the numbers, they must call the toll operator, provide the telephone number to be dialled and have the operator process the call.
3. ASIC noted that for the process in place to be successful, the disabled customers must either memorize or be able to physically record the requested telephone number in order to convey it to the toll operator for his/her action. ASIC argued that the only alternative available for the disabled customers that would allow them to avoid having to memorize a telephone number or physically record it is to use ADACC and pay the associated service charge of $0.35 per call.
4. ASIC noted that both Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) and MTS Communications Inc. (MTS) already provide an exemption from the charges associated with operator-assisted calls and ADACC for their registered directory assistance customers that have special needs.
5. ASIC noted and attached to its application copies of previous correspondence exchanged between itself and TCI wherein it had requested TCI provide an ADACC exemption for customers with special needs.
6. TCI filed its reply on 17 April 2003.
7. TCI supported ASIC's proposal and proposed that the exemption should apply to its registered customers with special needs, which include disabled/handicapped customers who are unable to use the directory due to an impairment certified by an organization, physician or individual acceptable to TCI and which are registered with TCI.
8. TCI noted that in Bell Canada - Directory assistance with automated directory assistance call completion service, Telecom Order CRTC 99-741, 29 July 1999 and in MTS Communications Inc. - Revisions to Directory Assistance and Introduction of Automated Directory Assistance Call Completion Service, Telecom Order CRTC 99-985, 12 October 1999, the Commission stated its view that ADACC is an optional service, the costs of which should be borne by those who use the service and that the service rate should be compensatory. TCI indicated that it had undertaken an assessment to determine the system changes required to exempt its registered customers with special needs from the ADACC service charge and submitted that the current rate of $0.35 would remain compensatory should these customers be exempted.
9. TCI stated that it would, at the direction of the Commission, file an application to revise Tariff item 308 to provide ADACC to its registered customers with special needs free of charge. TCI indicated that it would propose an effective date that took into account the necessary implementation lead time at the time of its tariff application.
Commission analysis and determinations
10. The Commission notes that TCI supported ASIC's request that registered blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind TCI customers be exempted from ADACC charges. The Commission also notes that TCI further proposed that the exemption should apply to disabled/handicapped customers who are unable to use the directory due to an impairment which is certified by an organization, physician or individual acceptable to TCI, and are registered with TCI.
11. The Commission further notes that the modification proposed by TCI would include the registered blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind TCI customers. In the Commission's view, ASIC's proposal, as modified by TCI, would allow those customers that need assistance to find telephone numbers to communicate with others in a manner that would be more comparable to that of customers that can use the telephone directory.
12. In addition, the Commission notes that it has already approved similar tariff provisions for Aliant Telecom Inc. in Introduction of automated directory assistance call completion service to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Telecom Order CRTC 2003-176, 6 May 2003, so that Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island customers would enjoy the same benefits as already existed for those in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador. Similar provisions were approved for SaskTel in Tariffs and associated form agreements, Order CRTC 2000-604, 29 June 2000 and for MTS in Directory assistance service, Order CRTC 2000-194, 14 March 2000.
13. The Commission further notes that, according to TCI, with inclusion of the proposed exemption, ADACC would remain compensatory at $0.35 per request. Accordingly, there is no issue with respect to cost recovery.
14. In light of the above, the Commission considers that it would be in the public interest to approve the proposed exemption.
15. Accordingly, the Commission directs TCI to file proposed tariff revisions reflecting ASIC's application, as modified by TCI's reply comments, within 30 days of the issuance of this decision.
16. The Commission notes that Bell Canada and Thunder Bay Telephone currently offer ADACC to their customers at the same rate of $0.35 per call, but without the exemption that is at issue in this application. All other companies that offer ADACC to their customers include an exemption for customers with special needs. It is the Commission's preliminary view, based on the record of this proceeding that it would be in the public interest to approve a similar exemption for eligible customers of Bell Canada and Thunder Bay Telephone.
17. Accordingly, the Commission directs Bell Canada and Thunder Bay Telephone to show cause, within 30 days of the date of this decision, as to why they should not be required to implement an exemption from the ADACC charge for their customers with special needs under terms similar to those specified by the Commission in this decision for TCI.
This document is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca
- Date modified: