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VoIP In Canada

Aug 17, 2007
Millions of travelers visit Canada each year to enjoy its natural beauty and modern cities. This country has seen a huge influx of immigrants from nations around the world including the UK, India, Pakistan, Germany, Poland, the Middle East, Hong Kong, China, and Israel, along with a growing number of visitors from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil. For many immigrants and visitors, the price of a phone call is a major deterrent to calling people in their home country to share their experiences in Canada.

Overseas calling rates are still very high, although new telecommunications technology has been driving the prices down. One of the major reasons phone call prices have been dropped in the last 5 years is the arrival of Voice over Internet Protocol services or VoIP service. VoIP is a telephone system technology that allows calls to be routed over the Internet. As you may know, the Internet is free, although access to it may require payment to any number of service providers.

Phone companies make much of their profits from charging for phone services. The act of completing or a conveying a phone call to a distant location is just one particular service. The phone companies state the charges cover system upgrades on local line installations, repairs, PSTN network improvements, and wireless transmission to meet the needs of today's consumer and business demand.

Governments, including the Government of Canada, and various Canadian provincial governments have enacted legislation to stop the local phone companies from raising their basic telephone service rates uncontrollably and acting unfairly toward competition in the marketplace. They know Canadian consumers are dependent on their home phone systems and there is a need to protect the public from price gouging tactics. Despite that, phone services in Canada are still costly, especially for international calling. The situation for cell phone subscribers is the same. Canadian consumers sometimes feel trapped, unable to fend off the high cost of telephone calls and Internet service. Phone companies and cable companies have the privilege of owning the telecommunications connections to Canadian's homes.

Charging for Features

Some of their service plan features allow for additional billing opportunities such as more bandwidth (high speed DSL lines), call waiting, voice mail, and caller ID. These services don't cost a great deal to provide yet the service fees every month add up and bite into the consumer's wallet. One concept that drives big telecommunications companies is "wallet share." Sure telecommunications companies compete with one another, but more importantly, they compete for the available dollars in a consumer's bank account and credit card.

The high prices for telecommunications services has generated a market for a cheap phone call solution. That solution is Internet Phone Service. VoIP phone calls leverage the freedom of the Internet backbone, and features that phone companies charge for are free with VoIP. VoIP is digital which means many services can be automated and improved. VoIP offers services above and beyond what regular PSTN-based phone services can offer. This provides extra convenience and more security for users such as free caller ID and call blocking. VoIP phone numbers are mobile. It doesn't matter where in the world the user is, they can be reached via their VoIP telephone number.

Canadian VoIP Service

Phone companies, cell phone providers and cable companies in Canada are not happy about letting people access cheaper telephone services. Telephone company's roles are increasingly being reduced to the transport of the call itself. They're being screened out of other services because of the cost.

Some Canadian telecommunication providers aren't necessarily going to allow VoIP to take hold and proliferate for Canadian consumers. Earlier this year, Calgary-based Shaw Cable announced it would charge a $10 a month premium for customers of VoIP service. One VoIP provider was quoted as saying "Shaw's VoIP tax is an unfair attempt to drive up the price of competing VoIP services to protect its own high-priced service." Shaw's VoIP tax touches on the issue of who controls Canadian's use of the Internet.

The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is a Canadian Federal Government department which regulates telecommunications companies in Canada. The commission ruled that since Canadians use VoIP as a telephone service, and it is being sold as a telephone service, it functions as a telephone service, that it should be regulated to protect Canadians interests. VoIP provides two-way real-time voice communications between parties each having a telephone number on the public switched telephone network, anywhere in the world. The CRTC regulations can be viewed on their website at crtc.gc.ca.

The CRTC decided in 2005, that it would regulate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP service) only when it is provided and used as local telephone service. The CRTC ruling was designed to encourage competition among VoIP providers not to stifle it. The ruling prevents phone companies with local exchange PSTN service from monopolizing or undermining the market. Shaw's actions would appear to be in violation of the law, however no determination has been made as yet.

One method the big Canadian telecom companies can use to stifle competition is to get into the VoIP market themselves. The CRTC ruling however, ensures that they cannot price their services lower than current VoIP phone service providers. Shaw Cable, Rogers Cable, Bell Canada, and Telus are just a few of the major phone companies that are now getting into the VoIP market.

VoIP plans are a great way for you to make cheap phone calls to Canada. Cut out the long distance charges and speak to your friends and family wherever they are from Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal.
About the Author
RNK Telecom is a privately held phone company offering wholesale and
residential telecommunications services including VOIP Services. They market ReVoS, an Internet telephony product which offers superior International Calling.
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