FCC delving further into rural call completion problems

Telecom associations are applauding the Federal Communications Commission for finally taking steps to tackle the call failure issue in rural areas. Earlier this month, the FCC filed a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on regulations needed to address the problem of dropped or poor quality long-distance calls, a move that the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NCTA) has been demanding for some time. Critics say least-call routing is to blame for the failures. Completing calls in rural areas tends to be pricier, to help cover the increased cost of service. Some long-distance carriers contract third-party companies, which attempt to use

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ISPs living up to advertised speeds

The Federal Communications Commission’s recently released report on consumer wireline broadband performance has found the majority of Internet service providers (ISPs) are delivering speeds as advertised during peak consumer usage hours. The February report — part of the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America initiative, with data collected last September — found that 97 per cent of ISPs were coming through with promised speeds during the busiest hours of 7-11 p.m. on weekdays. Most providers remained steady, with results on par with the previous FCC study. One standout was Frontier, which improved performance by a significant 13 per cent. The FCC was

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Data-share plan customers the happiest: J.D. Power & Associates

A recently released J.D. Power and Associates study has found users who subscribe to data-share plans are happier with their carrier’s overall customer service than those who are on more traditional wireless plans. The company’s 11th annual U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study examined the performance of carriers’ customer service in three ways: in person, online and via telephone. The biggest gap in satisfaction between shared data and traditional plan users when it came to service was that provided by a customer representative, in which the timeliness of resolving issues and the knowledge of the representative were identified as

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CRTC releases draft wireless code

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has released a working draft of its new national wireless code and is now welcoming feedback on the document. Among the guidelines are clear rules about unlocking phones, keeping contracts transparent and easy to understand and allowing for users to establish caps and monitor usage to prevent overages. “I would like to thank Canadians for having shared their candid views on wireless services,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, in a press release. “The draft code is still very much a work in progress and intended to encourage more discussion. We are

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BlackBerry comes out swinging at BB10 launch

It proved to be a big morning for Research in Motion, rolling out its new operating system, new smartphones, new branding and a new celebrity representative for the ailing Canadian company. The long awaited launch of BlackBerry 10 took place in New York City, with fans, media, analysts and the curious tuning in to a live stream online. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins was center stage for most of the announcement, with some speculating that if BlackBerry 10 is well received it could prove to be his “Steve Jobs moment.” An impassioned Heins told the audience the new platform has been

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Canada boosts 911 services for hearing, speech impaired

Newly announced enhancements to 911 services will open the door for Canadians with hearing or speech impairments to contact emergency call centres by text message. The new initiative should be completely rolled out by late January 2014, the deadline for wireline and wireless companies to upgrade their network to support the feature. “Services such as 911 are critical to the health and safety of all Canadians,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). “This initiative is a perfect example of how technology can be used to improve access to 911 services for Canadians with disabilities. I

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Northwestel announces $233M modernization plan for Canada’s north

After years of significant pressure from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Northwestel has finally announced a strategy to improve Internet and wireless services in Canada’s north. The plan – formally submitted to the CRTC on Wednesday – calls for a five-year, $233 million investment in its telecommunications network to support core infrastructure and upgrade and expand new services. Existing wirelines will be upgraded, as will cable infrastructure to boost Internet speeds to nearly 60 communities. Another 67 communities will receive 3G wireless broadband, which Northwestel says will allow 99 per cent of northerners to access the latest smartphones,

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Merchants facing credit card fee hike

MasterCard Canada is planning a significant hike in card processing costs for small business effective this July. The move – which will see assessment fees jump to 7.7 basis points from 6.4, a 20 per cent increase – comes on the heels of a similar announcement by Visa, which will boost its fees by one-third this April. Visa also plans to increase the cost of foreign card transactions by 40 basis points and introduce an “uber-premium” card for its top spenders, which will carry a higher processing fee for merchants. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) – which has

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Rural telcos demand FCC action on failed calls

  The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) is demanding action from the Federal Communications Commission on failed calls in rural areas. The association recently sent a letter to the FCC calling for the completion of a two-year investigation into the matter, requesting the commission take action to enforce its own ruling and hold companies that fail to route and complete calls accountable for their actions. “The time to put this epidemic of call failures to rest once and for all is past due,” wrote Michael Romano, NTCA senior vice president of policy, in the letter. Over the last few weeks,

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Subscribers lost when it comes to mobile roaming

Maybe you’ve read about it in the newspaper or maybe it happened to your neighbour. Or to Aunt Marion, or to the girl the next cubicle over at work. Or maybe even to you. It’s all too common these days to arrive home after a vacation, rip open your cell phone bill – or, since this is the 21st century and all, log into your account online – and discover you’ve been dinged for hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars worth of international roaming fees. There’s even a name for it: bill shock. Take the case of one Canadian traveler whose

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