The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has released its latest findings on the public payphone sector, showing a steady decline in usage: compared to 2004, when 50% of Canadians reported occasionally using payphones, today only 32% of Canadians use a payphone at least once a year, according to the report. The CRTC said in a release that it recognises payphones are important in society because of their accessibility, their one-time per-use cost and unlimited time for local and toll-free calls, and therefore to protect the public interest, the regulator is proposing that all incumbent telephone companies be obligated to notify communities affected, including municipalities and First Nations, before removing the last public telephone in each community. Companies would also have to notify communities before removing a public telephone where wireless service is not available. Canadians living in rural and urban communities would have the opportunity to give their opinions to local authorities regarding the removal of certain payphones. In 2013, the CRTC imposed a moratorium preventing large telephone companies from removing the last payphone in a community, and this will be maintained until the regulator has made its decision. Canadians are invited to submit their comments on these issues by 30 March 2015.
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