Primus launches VoIP servicePrimus Telecommunications Canada Inc. has unveiled its TalkBroadband service. The service uses Voice over IP to deliver voice telephony to subscribers. The product, which starts at $19.95 a month, does not feature 911 service.Lawsuits against BCE and BCI dismissedThe Ontario Superior Court of Justice has dismissed two shareholder suits against Bell Canada International Inc. and BCE Inc. over the issuance of BCI shares. The actions were filed by shareholders Wilfred Shaw and Cameron Gillespie. BCI has also announced that it has completed the sale of its broadband operations in Brazil.BCE Emergis exits U.S. marketBCE Emergis Inc. has sold its shares in American subsidiary BCE Emergis Corp. for $276 million. The deal, with MultiPlan Inc., is expected to close next month. BCE Emergis says it is planning to concentrate on the Canadian market.CGI management team to retain control of companyCGI Group Inc. announced that control of the company is still in the hands of its founders. Serge Godin, André Imbeau and Jean Brassard hold 47.97% of the shares in the company. BCE Inc. and its subsidiaries are keeping their 29.84% stake.SaskTel invests $121 million to improve facilitiesSaskTel says it will spend $121 million to upgrade its network across the province. It plans to roll out a scalable IP network that will support voice, Centrex, IP integration and multimedia features. Other investments revolve around wireless networks and television services.Nortel and Avici form relationship to converge networksNortel Networks Corp. and Avici Systems Inc. have signed a three-year strategic pact. Nortel will integrate the Massachusetts firm’s routers into its IP technology while Avici will become the Canadian company’s preferred partner for IP routers. Nortel has also signed major contracts for VoIP technology with Verizon and Cable & Wireless.Advanced Fibre buys Marconi’s North American Access unitAdvanced Fibre Communications Inc. is purchasing North American Access from Marconi Communications Inc. AFC will pay US$240 million for the company. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of this year.Rogers Internet subscriptions slow, but overall totals upBy the end of 2003, Rogers Communications Inc. had 790,500 Internet subscribers, up 23.6% from a year earlier. But its number of net additions is slowing down. For the year, it added 151,100 users, down from the 160,600 subscribers it added in 2002. For the final quarter, Rogers posted 35,400 net additions, down from 45,200 registered in the final three months of 2002.Telecom Ottawa signs preferred vendor pact with City of OttawaUtel Telecom Ottawa has been chosen by the City of Ottawa as its preferred vendor for voice, video and data connectivity. The company already provides the municipality with network services in many locations. The new deal will allow the city to expand those services into far-flung parts of the region.Bell cannot buy out workers unilaterally, CIRB rulesThe Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) has ruled that Bell Canada cannot buy out workers without consulting their union. This upholds an earlier ruling by the CIRB. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada celebrated the victory.Canada Payphone revenues up in 2003Canada Payphone Corp. reported revenues of $3.5 million for fiscal year 2003, a 12.5% increase from a year earlier. Losses for 2003 were $432,392, down from $974,874 in 2002. The Vancouver company expects improved results for 2004.Linmor hires NorthCrest to study alternativesTroubled Ottawa tech firm Linmor Technologies Inc. has retained NorthCrest Partners Inc. to study strategic alternatives for the company. Late last year it announced it was laying off most of its staff (NL Update, Oct. 6/03). At one time Linmor was one of the bright stars in the Ottawa high-tech industry (NL, June 4/01).REGULATORY NEWSCRTC tells ILECs to notify customers of renewalIn Telecom Decision 2003-85, the commission ordered Bell Canada and Telus Communications Inc. to notify flat rate business clients about automatic renewal of their contracts. The ILECs must inform customers 60 days before that they will renew the deals and within 35 days that the contract has been renewed. Subscribers have 30 days to terminate the contract without penalty.Shaw ordered to provide Cybersurf with third-party accessThe CRTC ruled, in Telecom Decision 2003-87, that Shaw Cablesystems must provide third-party Internet access to Cybersurf Corp. The Calgary company was seeking access to Shaw’s network in six western cities. Cybersurf says the decision will help it move toward becoming a national high-speed cable Internet provider.Bell and Aliant must provide subscribers with detailed statementsIn Telecom Decision 2003-86, the CRTC ordered Bell Canada and Aliant Telecom Inc. to provide all customers with itemized monthly bills. The practice must begin by next summer. A request by the telcos to recover costs associated with the introduction of detailed statements was denied.CAPTS network tariffs approvedIn Telecom Order 2003-525, the CRTC granted approval to the final 2001 network access tariffs for the Canadian Alliance of Publicly-Owned Telecommunications Systems (CAPTS). The same ruling also gave interim approval for the interim 2002 tariffs. CAPTS represents four telcos in northern Ontario.CRTC receives more comments on bundlingThe CRTC has received more comments on the Part VII application by Rogers Communications Inc. and Call-Net Enterprises Inc. over Bell Canada’s alleged violations of bundling rules. Comments were filed by the Canadian Cable Television Association, FCI Broadband, Allstream Corp., and Bell. Last week, Rogers and Call-Net filed their replies.INTERNATIONAL NEWSOfcom investigates state of telecom competition in BritainThe Office of Communications (Ofcom) has begun its study of telecom competition in Britain. The first of its three phases should be completed by the spring, with the full report ready by the end of the year. Ofcom assumed the role of telecom and broadcasting regulator in the United Kingdom on January 1.FCC levies $5-million fine over junk faxesThe Federal Communications Commission has fined Fax.com US$5 million for sending unsolicited faxes to consumers. The FCC said Fax.com had violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and FCC rules 489 times. This is the largest fine levied by the regulator for breaking the Act.