Bell Canada’s decision to launch Voice over IP services in three Quebec markets and the CRTC decision not to intervene has angered competitors, but they take solace in the fact that the CRTC has set a May 12 deadline for issuing its much-anticipated ruling on Voice over IP regulation. Canada’s largest telco launched its Bell Digital Voice service in Québec City, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke on March 30.  Following the company’s launch late last month, response from competitors was quick and decisive. Cogeco Cable Inc. and Quebecor Media filed applications with the commission requesting it issue an immediate cease-and-desist order against Bell. The Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association (CCTA) also filed an application asking the CRTC to make sure that Bell was in compliance with sections 25 and 27 of the Telecommunications Act. "You could see by the tone of our application, we viewed it as pretty outrageous to sort of fly in the face of the commission’s preliminary opinion," Dennis Béland, director of regulatory affairs at Quebecor subsidiary Vidéotron Telecom, tells Network Letter. "Folks here are disappointed that the commission didn’t act immediately to affirm its authority, but I think we’re also glad to see the firm date for the decision, so the matter will be resolved (rather quickly)."  Michael Hennessey, president and CEO of the CCTA, was equally angered by Bell’s decision to launch VoIP prior to the ruling. "I was not happy. I still think that it is a telephone service: looks like a telephone service (and) marketed as a telephone service. There’s not really any unique features…I think they basically sort of rubbed the glove in the commission’s face and the commission has decided that the best approach is to just nail it all down within the next month…I think that what Bell did was blatant disregard for the process," he says.  Highlighting a recent ruling allowing Bell to continue to provide service under contracts previously determined to be illegal, Chris Peirce, senior VP of regulatory and government affairs at MTS Allstream, says the Bell VoIP launch this is just another instance of Bell benefiting from not following the rules.  "They’re brazenly calling their VoIP service an Internet application, even though the commission, the only time it has defined Internet services, specifically left out voice, and that its preliminary view in this proceeding was that this is a voice service (and) will be regulated like any other telecommunications service…If you’re someone out there in the telecommunications industry, you have to wonder why should you be following the rules, because apparently you don’t have to," he tells NL.  Not surprisingly, TELUS Corp. supports Bell’s launch, and notes that the VoIP service on offer is what the company had argued should be unregulated during the VoIP hearings last fall. Janet Yale, executive VP of government and regulatory affairs at the western ILEC tells NL that this type of service offering should be unregulated because "you buy your access and your application separately." Telecom industry analyst Liz Angus says it’s logical that the commission chose not to immediately intervene. "(The commission) is saying the questions that these applications address are already before the commission in the VoIP proceeding, all the arguments have been made there, and it’s going to be releasing its decision," she says.  Sources contacted by Network Letter don’t believe that the CRTC’s decision to stand pat on the Bell VoIP offering until after the bigger VoIP ruling next month provides any clues on how the commission will rule on the issue.  "We interpret (the commission decision to not intervene) as putting parties, particularly Bell, on notice that when the decision does come down, the commission is going to expect compliance with it and there’s no excuse now for anyone to claim to be surprised about the issue of compliance," Béland says.  Bell declined to comment on reaction to the CRTC decision.