ARCHIVED - Telecom Order CRTC 2003-21

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Archived Decisions, Notices and Orders (DNOs) remain in effect except to the extent they are amended or reversed by the Commission, a court, or the government. The text of archived information has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Changes to DNOs are published as “dashes” to the original DNO number. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.


Telecom Order CRTC 2003-21

Ottawa, 13 January 2003

MTS Communications Inc.

Reference: Tariff Notice 479

Directory assistance charge exemption for calls from payphones

The Commission denies an application by MTS Communications Inc. to remove the local directory assistance charge exemption for persons calling from payphones.


The Commission received an application by MTS Communications Inc. (MTS), dated 22 May 2002, to amend General Tariff item 1610, Operator Services, in order to remove the local directory assistance (DA) charge exemption for persons calling from public and semi-public telephones (collectively, payphones).


In support of its application, MTS submitted that users of a service should pay for the service. MTS argued that the Commission had endorsed the principle that the users of a service that caused a company to incur costs should be those from whom the company recovered such costs.


MTS also argued that its proposal would result in a more consistent application of DA charges since it was contradictory to require callers to pay for DA from home or business telephones but not from payphones.


MTS further argued that directory listings are available from white pages directories provided at MTS' payphone locations, and accordingly, argued that DA was a discretionary service.


Finally, MTS submitted that its proposal would address an imbalance in the competitive payphone market in Manitoba by aligning the terms and conditions of its DA service closer to that provided by alternative payphone service providers. MTS noted that alternative payphone providers in Manitoba charged for DA service.


Comments were received from the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) in Manitoba on behalf of the Manitoba Society of Seniors and the Consumer Association of Canada on 18 June 2002.


PILC generally opposed MTS' application and argued that it would be inequitable to charge for DA because payphones were the primary means of accessing the telephone network for a number of people. PILC also submitted that white pages directories were not available at every payphone.


In its reply comments, MTS submitted that a caller at a payphone where a white pages directory was not available could contact an operator, report the absence of a white pages directory and receive DA at no charge. MTS also argued that in Local pay telephone competition, Telecom Decision CRTC 98-8, 30 June 1998, the Commission stated that the majority of people use payphones as a convenience or for emergency purposes, and not as a substitute for basic service.

Commission determination


While the Commission acknowledges that MTS proposal may result in a more consistent application of DA charges and would require users to pay for the service, the Commission is not persuaded that it is appropriate to remove the DA exemption for payphones at this time.


The Commission notes that MTS' application to remove the local DA charge exemption for persons calling from payphones is a pricing proposal that relates to payphones. The Commission further notes that, subsequent to the filing of this application, it determined, in Regulatory framework for second price cap period, Telecom Decision CRTC 2002-34, 30 May 2002, that rates for public and semi-public payphones were to remain at current levels, pending consideration of policy issues related to payphone service.


In Access to pay telephone service, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2002-6, 5 December 2002, the Commission initiated a proceeding to consider issues relating to access to pay telephone service. The Commission called for comments on a number of matters, including the necessity of public interest telephones and whether DA should be provided free of charge at public interest pay telephones. The Commission noted that while it will only consider pricing policy issues and rate proposals relating to public interest pay telephones and pay telephones equipped for deaf consumers as part of the proceeding, it intends to address other pricing policy issues and rate proposals in an upcoming proceeding.


The Commission considers that there is no public service advantage or need to align the DA service provided by MTS with that of alternative payphone service providers at this time.


In light of the above, the Commission finds that the exemption from DA charges for MTS' payphones should be retained.


Accordingly, the Commission denies MTS' application.

Secretary General

This document is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site:

Date Modified: 2003-01-13

Date modified: