Cable firms voice support for existing CRTC VoIP regulations

Cogeco Cable Inc., Quebecor Media Inc. (on behalf of its subsidiary Videotron Ltd.) and Rogers Communications Inc. filed a joint submission with the CRTC reinforcing their support for the May 2005 CRTC decision to regulate VoIP services.

“By guarding against anti-competitive behaviour at this time, the VoIP decision has stimulated more investment and innovation in the local telephone market to the benefit of all Canadians,” the companies stated.

In May, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier called on the CRTC to reconsider its decision following subsequent appeals from incumbents and competitive local exchange carriers.

Iain Grant, an analyst with the SeaBoard Group in Montreal, said Rogers isn’t concerned that Bell is going to steal its customers.

“Rogers is concerned more that Bell is going to be fighting back tooth and claw when Rogers tries to seduce Bell customers,” said Grant. “If you look to Montreal, Videotron has shown the way. Our forecasts show Videotron will close 2006 with over 370,000 customers from zero a year ago.”

The CRTC’s original decision was to regulate VoIP services offered by incumbents similar to other types of phone services available in Canada.

Grant said Bell just wants to be treated the same way as Rogers.

“Bell’s saying, ‘We’ve lost enough share … Why are our hands tied behind our backs?’” he said.

Likewise, Jon Arnold, a Toronto-based telecom analyst, said incumbents Bell and Telus want to be able to “compete on a level playing field” in the VoIP market, without restrictions.

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