SaskTel to offer Voice over IP amid criticism it has monopoly power in the province

SaskTel, along with other of Canada’s incumbents, is waiting for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to budge on its current position on voice-over IP, but the Saskatchewan provider said it already has plans for a rollout in the province.Earlier this year, Bell Canada, SaskTel, Aliant and Telus collectively asked the federal government to overturn the CRTC’s ruling that VoIP be regulated the same as traditional telephone service. They argued that regulation around an Internet-based voice service would give other providers that aren’t fettered by incumbent status an unfair advantage in a war to win market share.
At the time, Maynard Sonntag, the minister responsible for SaskTel told that “we should be able to operate on a level playing field. We’re just simply saying, very, very large companies up to 25 times the size of SaskTel can now come into Saskatchewan and operate in a very regulated environment that gives them a very significant advantage over . . . SaskTel.”
SaskTel has confirmed that it will go ahead with VoIP service in the province it serves.
Despite criticism that it has a monopoly in the province, SaskTel spokesperson Michelle Englot said there are “numerous” VoIP providers operating there.
“They’re either providing (local calling area) 306 numbers or numbers from other parts of Canada,” she said.
Bell Canada was the first incumbent to launch VoIP service in March. Regardless of regulatory issues, it won’t be the last, said Iain Grant, principal with the SeaBoard Group in Montreal.
“The merits of voice-over IP, the features it offers, the prices that you can get and, essentially, the customer-friendliness of what you can accomplish are so compelling that today a circuit-switched network doesn’t compete,” said Grant.
The landscape in Saskatchewan is already set to change. SaskTel will provide VoIP in the province and will be joined by the likes of Vonage before too long.
Joe Parent, VP of marketing and business development for Vonage Canada, said that any current barriers to entry in Saskatchewan aren’t “government or regulatory. . . it’s really just technology. What will determine when we go in is purely an economic decision based on the cost of building out network in the province and our expected take rate.”

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