Johnston calls for removal of foreign ownership limits in telecom sectorDavid Johnston, chair of the former National Broadband Task Force, told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology last week that he favours removal of the foreign investment restrictions for telcos. "While I suggest it should be done early and completely, it may well be this should happen through negotiations under NAFTA to ensure reciprocal treatment by the U.S. and Mexico," he stated. This week’s scheduled witnesses include BCE Inc. president and CEO Michael Sabia, the National Alliance of Communications Workers (which opposes any changes to the limits), and university professor Richard Schultz. Telus revenues down in Q4 and 2002 fiscal yearWestern ILEC Telus Corp. had total revenue of $1.3 billion in its fiscal 2002 fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2002, a decrease of $148 million from the same quarter a year earlier, according to Q4 and 2002 year-end financial results issued by the telco late last week. The decline in revenue was largely due to a $112-million hit from regulatory decisions (contribution and price caps), and a $54-million decrease in local, long-distance and other revenue, the telco said. Full-year revenues dropped to just over $7 billion in 2002 from $7.08 billion the previous year. The company had a net loss of $139.2 million in Q4, compared to a net loss of $46.7 million a year earlier, and a net loss of $229 million for the full year, compared to a profit of $453.5 million in 2001.Other Q4 highlights include: Capex and operating expenses were both down; The number of staff declined by 2,500 in the quarter, bringing the year-end staff total to 5,200; and High-speed Internet subscriber net additions of 43,200, bringing total subscribers to 410,000, a 91% increase.  Nortel gets support from EDCNortel Networks Corp. announced a US$750 million support facility from Export Development Canada late last week. The deal is made up of US$300 million of committed support for performance bonds, US$150 million of uncommitted support for receivables sales/securitizations and US$300 million uncommitted support for performance bonds and receivable sales/securitizations. Montreal NPA relief delayed by CRTCIn Telecom Decision 2003-6, the CRTC has approved a delay in the relief date for the 514 numbering plan area. The change to the Montreal area code will now take place in September 2005 rather than February 2004. The final implementation of relief will result in 10-digit dialing in the region. EastLink backs Call-Net appeal on DSL serviceEastLink is supporting Call-Net Enterprises Inc. in its Part VII application over DSL service. Call-Net wants the CRTC to order ILECs to provide DSL service to customers of rival CLECs (NL, Jan. 28/03). EastLink, which provides telephony, high-speed Internet and cable television services in the Maritimes, maintains the current ILEC practice is anti-competitive. NorthernTel name change approvedThe CRTC has approved a corporate name change by Northern Telephone Ltd. Partnership. Telecom Order 2003-73 endorses the switch to NorthernTel. There were no comments received on the application. 360networks signs OVPN deal with Navigata360networks Corp. will deploy its optical virtual private network for Navigata Communications Inc. Navigata will use the service to broaden its footprint in Canada and the U.S. Navigata, formerly RSL COM Canada, is a division of SaskTel. Videotron Telecom revenues up in Q4, but down in 2002 fiscal year Videotron Telecom Ltd. achieved revenues of $24.7 million in its fiscal 2002 fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2002, up from $22.3 million in the same quarter a year ago, according to the latest financial results released late last week by parent company Quebecor Media Inc. Operating income in the quarter also increased to $7.9 million from $6.9 million in Q4 2001. For the 2002 fiscal year, revenues decreased to $91.9 million from $96.7 million a year earlier due to the discontinuation of certain operations. Operating income, however, increased to $27.3 million in 2002 from $23.4 million in 2001. Quebecor Media wrote down the value of its business telecommunications operations by $107.6 million in 2002.The acquisition of the assets of now-defunct Stream Intelligent Networks in April 2002 (NL, Apr. 9/02) and two fibre optic routes in December 2002 (NL Update, Jan. 6/03) "demonstrate VTL’s commitment to expansion in the Ontario marketplace," according to the "management’s discussion and analysis" section of Quebecor Inc.’s 2002 Annual Report. Linmor upgrades Nebula productOttawa equipment manufacturer Linmor Inc. has released the latest version of its Nebula suite of products. It is including a 30-day free trial for interested parties. The company also announced a partnership to offer Nebula to clients of Avotus Corp. SEC accuses couple of insider trading on Telus stockThe Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington DC has filed civil action against Scott and Linda Watson, alleging they engaged in insider trading over Telus Corp.’s takeover of Clearnet Communications Inc. The SEC asserts the couple, who is now divorced, used information from Telus executive VP John Maduri to scoop up Clearnet stock. Maduri is not part of the SEC action. Bell Globemedia buys 15% stake in MLSEBCE Inc. subsidiary Bell Globemedia has purchased a 15% stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the holding company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors and the Air Canada Centre. Its partners in the long-rumoured venture are the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Larry Tannenbaum (NL, Apr. 9/01). The Leafs last won the Stanley Cup when the grandfather of BCE president and CEO Michael Sabia’s wife was Prime Minister. Bell already holds naming rights to the Montreal Canadiens’ arena (NL Update, March 4/02). INTERNATIONAL NEWS Reality show stars not belles of the BellA survey by SBC Communications Inc. asked people whose calls they would most want blocked or screened on Valentine’s Day. Leading the list was zaftig Playmate/golddigger Anna Nicole Smith, followed by celebrity daughter Kelly Osbourne, ersatz millionaire Evan Marriott and snide TV personality Simon Cowell. Asked what would make a better lover’s communication, 18% said an LD call from a loved one who is far away. NOW Solutions sells payroll software to Betty Ford CenterNOW Solutions LLC has sold its emPath payroll product to the Betty Ford Center, an alcohol and drug treatment facility in California. The device will handle HR concerns like salaries, performance reviews and benefits. Texas-based NOW has offices in Toronto.