The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has introduced a new policy designed to quicken the migration from circuit-switched voice technology to Internet Protocol (IP) amongst large fixed line network operators. Having traditionally relied on circuit-switched networks (based on TDM technology) to transfer voice calls to and from other networks, Canada’s large regional incumbent operators are at differing stages of adopting IP, whereas newer telephony operators, including cablecos and cellcos, have built all-IP networks. At present, IP-based network operators are responsible for converting their IP telephone calls to the older TDM standard, at their own expense. The CRTC’s new rules state that in areas where a large telephone company uses IP to transfer calls to any other provider (including affiliated networks), it must provide similar arrangements to any additional provider that requests it, within six months of the request. Rules have also been simplified under which the costs of transferring calls between a wireless and a wireline provider are shared. A key point was the different obligations between independent wireless providers and those that are affiliated with a larger communications company. Currently, independent providers are responsible for paying the entire cost unless they allow alternative long-distance providers access to their networks. Under the CRTC’s new policy, wireless providers will no longer be required to give this access to alternative long-distance providers ‘since they already offer a variety of plans and Canadians can choose from other long-distance options, such as pre-paid cards and local access numbers’, the regulator’s decision states, adding that the changes will reduce costs for many wireless providers. Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the CRTC, said: ‘We have established basic principles to ensure this [IP] technology becomes the industry standard for voice networks as quickly as possible.’
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