Telco wants speedier destandardization  The country’s largest incumbent telephone provider is pressing the CRTC to streamline its procedures for service destandardization and withdrawal. Essentially, Bell Canada is looking for a quicker way to phase out low-demand telecom services. Bell customers take note: a service you rely on could be affected.The telco calls for a specific process with standard criteria to evaluate service withdrawal applications. This is particularly important, says Mirko Bibic, Bell’s Chief Regulatory Officer, given the transition to IP networks and the rapid pace of technological change in general. Unsurprisingly, Telus Corp. agrees with Bell’s request. Willie Grieve, VP of Telecom Policy and Regulatory Affairs, says a new streamlined approach to service withdrawal will become even more important in the future because some services are defined by their technology, which can become obsolete. Competitors haven’t yet responded to Bell’s latest move to ease regulatory oversight, but can be expected to raise objections. In particular, they favour close regulation of competitor services and of core network services—controlled in large part by the incumbents—which they hold to be bottleneck services. "This is an important application for customers," comments Telemanagement Consulting Editor Lis Angus. "Though it is couched as a ‘procedural’ application, underlying it is Bell Canada’s stated intention to withdraw legacy services (as yet unnamed) in order to cost-justify investments in next-generation networks. Customers should expect that some familiar and trusted services will disappear, and if Bell’s proposal is approved, they may have only limited ability to protest the withdrawal of services they rely on." PrimeLine Precedent Indeed, Bell’s proposal follows closely on a lengthy and acrimonious dispute over its May 2003 request to destandardize and withdraw PrimeLine Executive, a service that allows customers to reroute incoming phone calls to any location. PrimeLine customers, mostly small businesses, protested vigorously that Bell’s plan would deprive them of a much-needed service, and rejected the telco’s proposed replacement (Single Number Reach) as inadequate. After a year of argument, the Commission said Bell could destandardize the service but not withdraw it.Business users beware! "Destandardization" may be an obscure word, but it can touch your vital interests. Len Katz Named Director at CRTC The CRTC is welcoming a new Executive Director of Telecommunications—Len Katz, a telecom veteran who has served in senior positions at Bell Canada, Cantel, Rogers Cable, and Rogers Business Solutions. He replaces Shirley Soehn, who has been widely praised for the job she did through her two-year term. She will remain at the CRTC through March to assist with the transition. "I’ve worked with Len on policy committees and always found him to be very intelligent and solutions-oriented," says Lis Angus. "I’m sure these qualities will be evident as he moves into his new role at the CRTC." Price Cap Debate Opens A recently published commentary in Telemanagement sister publication Network Letter by Ottawa regulatory lawyer Christopher Taylor is sure to spark controversy surrounding the development of the next price cap regime. Taylor says that many elements of the previous price cap regime need to be reviewed—particularly the going-in prices for optional telecommunications services such as voicemail and call forwarding. The CRTC is expected to announce the beginning of this proceeding by June; the second Price Cap regime will expire in May 2006. Telus Says MTS Tariffs Apply to Allstream Telus Corp. launched a salvo against MTS Allstream in December in a Part VII application, saying that Allstream’s operations in Manitoba should be subject to the same tariffs as those of parent company MTS. But there’s more to it than that. Telus Executive VP Janet Yale says the application is really about opening a dialogue on deregulation of the business telecommunications services market in general. "These markets are increasingly competitive," she says. "Perhaps in the business market we should start to have a serious conversation about whether or not we really need to have these services subject to tariff requirements." MTS Allstream didn’t take too kindly to Yale’s suggestion that the application may have a broader goal in view. "If it’s intended as a first move to deregulate the business market, then it’s disingenuous," says Chris Peirce, Senior VP Regulatory and Government Affairs. "The application is pretty directly stating that on a go-forward basis, incumbents need to offer regulated services at regulated rates in-territory," Peirce says. "If asking for the exact opposite of that, then I think it would have been incumbent upon them to indicate that." In BriefThe CRTC has given Telus approval to introduce IP-Evolution, a VoIP-based alternative to traditional Centrex, as of February 3, and asked the telco to file its IP-Evolution customer contract. Bell has received a go-ahead to increase Centrex data rates by between 2.6% and 30.2% and Centrex Microlink rates by between 4.7% and 15.2%. The Commission has approved a proposal by Manitoba Tel to increase multiline business service rates by $1 a month (non-contract lines) or 25¢-75¢ (contracted lines).