Scant benefits package may delay CRTC approval of Quebecor-Vidéotron merger

CRTC commissioners presiding over a hearing into Quebecor’s merger with Vidéotron ltée and TVA Group Inc grilled company executives in Montreal this week on a proposed benefits package that appears to fall well short of the regulator’s expectations. The commission’s vice chair of broadcasting, Andrée Wylie, went so far as to suggest that approval of the merger could be dependent upon the publishing giant antying up more in benefits.

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NL People

Kym Wittal has been named CTO of SaskTel. He is an 18-year veteran of the provincial telco, having worked most recently as GM technology performance and operations.

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NL Short Takes

RSL Com seeks relief from contribution payments
RSL Com Canada is asking the CRTC to stop collecting contribution payments from it. The BC-based CLEC tells Network Letter it paid its 4.5% of eligible revenues by March 15 and does not want to have a credit in the central fund.

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Broadband task force finalizing draft in preparation for May 31 deadline

The National Broadband Task Force will spend its next two meetings finalizing its recommendations to government on how to rollout high-speed Internet across Canada before presenting its final report at the end of May. The group tentatively approved 30 draft recommendations at its third monthly meeting on March 8. The recommendations will be more fully ratified at its April 12 meeting.

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Price cap rules favour ILECs at expense of viable telecom competition, critics charge

Major competitors to the incumbent telcos say the current pricing regime for telecommunications in Canada isn’t working, and they’re calling for changes in how the CRTC sets the rules. Critics argue that the price cap rules, which replaced rate of return regulation in 1997, favour the incumbents to the detriment of long distance providers and other competitors. They’re hoping the commission’s current review of price caps – Telecom PN 2001-37 released March 13 – will correct the inequities.

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New report suggests all telecoms be required to provide more data to CRTC

The regulated, the forborne and even the deregulated could be subject to stringent new reporting requirements that will help the federal government determine if Canada’s telecom market is viable and technologically advanced. A background report prepared for the CRTC as part of a mandated review of the state of Canadian telecommunications suggests that any company that falls under the general purview of the Telecommunications Act be required to complete a three-part form, with the first part due by the summer.

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Bell considers further appeal and raising phone rates, after failing to sway CRTC

Bell Canada says it will decide soon whether to take its case for contribution relief to a higher authority, or accept the CRTC’s denial of its plea to amend the new subsidy regime which came into effect Jan. 1. On March 15, the commission released Order 2001-219 which rejected the telco’s Part VII application asking that the 4.5 per cent revenue charge be reduced in the first year to ease the financial burden on carriers.

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