No More Cheap Calls Via the US CANADA

Article excerpt

CANADIAN long-distance rates - double those in the United States - look as if they will stay pricey after a ruling by a federal regulator.

Just as Canadian consumers head south in search of cheaper gasoline and groceries, Canadian business is routing telephone calls south to take advantage of lower long-distance charges. It is cheaper to skip across the continent on the American side and divert calls north after bypassing almost all of the Canadian long- distance lines and charges.

Now telephone resellers in Canada will not be allowed to reroute calls through the US.

Here's how Bell Canada compares to American Telephone & Telegraph Company on a coast to coast call dialed direct at peak times during the week: Montreal to Vancouver costs 43 cents (US) a minute; a call from New York to Los Angeles is just 24 cents a minute. A wide variety of discounts are offered in both countries, especially to business customers.

So it is cheaper to route a Vancouver-Montreal call down into Washington state, zap it across AT&T lines to New York state, and then push it over the border into Canada where dedicated lines owned or leased by the reseller take it to Montreal.

This is now a no-no, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

And the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement doesn't include telephone calls.

"Bypassing of Canadian facilities by resellers and companies with private networks results in our domestic carriers losing revenues, which undermines the strength of the Canadian telecommunications system," said CRTC chairman David Colville.

In spite of the ruling, the practice may be impossible to stop. "This is a tricky thing to police," says Elisabeth Angus, executive vice president of Angus Telemanagement, a Toronto consulting firm. …