Recently, Bell Canada has been talking about the interests of the customer. Customers benefit from a healthy, competitive market. No amount of spin can support the notion that abuse of dominance is a good thing for customers. Exclaiming that the regulator is hurting the customer by enforcing the Telecommunications Act, curbing anti-competitive behaviour or removing barriers to competitor access is untenable. Without a fair and balanced regulatory environment, the benefits that competitive choice and pricing have brought to Canadians will be lost, so too will the powerful incentive to invest and innovate. With that in mind, let’s summarize the essential facts buried in Bell Canada’s much discussed survey of Canadians concerning their ‘personal communications services’: Nearly everyone uses local wireline telephony; Despite the dramatic increase in wireless usage, wireline penetration has not budged; ‘Substitution’ really means ‘someone else was using the phone’; or, ‘my parents didn’t want me taking up the line’; Intentions of Canadians to keep their wireline offering is rock solid. When asked what would make them de-subscribe, fully half said: ‘Nothing’. Of course, there is nothing in the survey that casts doubt on the CRTC’s third annual telecom report: local competition is weak with incumbents controlling 95% of the local market overall. Now let’s summarize the essential message Bell Canada would have the government and regulator take from its survey: Back off, there’s enough competition. For good measure, let’s summarize the essential message Bell Canada put forward in the price cap proceeding: Back off, there’s enough competition. And finally, let’s list a couple of code words for all things that Bell Canada would say go bump in the night and threaten their remarkable hold on the keystone of telecommunications: EastLink; Vonage. Their impetus for such elegant spinning is clear: Bell Canada, the fourth most profitable company in Canada (after three banks and ahead of two others), derives nearly half its revenues from its near monopoly in the local business, a profitable anchor given the average monthly revenue per line of $101. Further, that local stranglehold is the best means imaginable to ward off competitors and win back the limited business market share lost. And what happens to customers when Bell succeeds in warding off competition: Residential local prices, particularly calling feature prices, increase; Residential LD prices increase; Business local (Centrex, Local Link, rural) prices increase. The perspective offered as "new" by my counterpart Lawson Hunter is the same perspective the former monopolies have been offering up for a number of years. It is a perspective intended to legitimize their rather ribald behaviour in the marketplace as they endeavour to pre-empt further competition and take back the sliver of the telecommunications market they have lost. Bell Canada is absolutely right when it speaks of the need for regulatory symmetry. That is so whether in terms of access to the existing public network that they control, access to capital, or the integrity and transparency of the tariff process. There is a dangerous asymmetry present today. Take for example the prices charged competitors like Allstream when captive to the incumbent network: Prices for "cost-based" services 30%-80% over ILEC self-reported costs; "Wholesale" DSL services priced at rates that include mark-ups of up to 800%; Prices for Ethernet that are 20% to 60% higher than for other retail customers. The CRTC has over the past number of months signalled some determination to act to correct that asymmetry. Let us be under no illusions, however. Any and all attempts to do so will be fought tooth and nail by the former monopolies. Bell’s message to the CRTC has lately been: "Enough is enough". When my daughter was five years old she too would at times protest: "You’re not the boss of me!" Pray the CRTC recognizes these protestations for what they are and perseveres in its efforts to discipline those the law charges it to regulate. Chris Peirce is Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Government Affairs for Allstream Corp.