Ruling to allow for residential phone rate hikes

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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PORT GREVILLE Telephone service in rural communities could start costing more next month after a recent ruling from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

PORT GREVILLE Telephone service in rural communities could start costing more next month after a recent ruling from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The new regulations, to take effect June 1, will ensure that residential customers in regulated urban markets will not see a rate increase for basic local service. This will not apply to residential service in rural areas, where providing services is higher on a per-customer basis due to the lower population density.

In the past, providing service to these rural areas was made more affordable through a subsidy paid by telecom providers and collected from all ratepayers, according to Denis Henry, vice-president of regulatory affairs at Aliant.

The commission said it would like to see the amount of the subsidy shrink over time, and made sure it is, then said any provider of service in those areas can raise prices to partially offset the loss of the subsidy, said Henry.

The regulations do cap the amount a company can raise its rates, however. The cap is set at either the inflation rate or five per cent, whichever is lower.

Henry was uncertain whether Aliant planned any immediate increases.

Its too early to tell, but we have the flexibility to put in increases, he said. A lot will depend on market conditions.

An increase would not sit well with Port Greville resident Paul Hill, who argued that telephone service is vital for rural areas, where emergency needs are higher and many seniors are isolated.

I cant think of any real reason to justify having a different rate base, he said. The service is a needed service, and you shouldnt be penalized for living out in these types of areas.

awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Aliant

Geographic location: Port Greville

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