Use of payphones in Canada decreasing

Before removing the last public telephone CRTC proposes affected communities must be notified

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to released the results of its fact-finding process on the role of payphones in the Canadian communications system on Feb. 26.

The report, Results of the fact-finding process on the role of payphones in the Canadian communications system, clearly shows that the use of payphones by Canadians is decreasing steadily. Compared to 2004, when 50 per cent of Canadians reported occasionally using these services, today only 32 per cent of Canadians report having used a payphone at least once over the course of the year.

However, CRTC says they recognize that payphones are important in society because of their accessibility, their one-time per-use cost and unlimited time for local and toll-free calls.

To protect the public interest, the CRTC is proposing that all incumbent telephone companies be obligated to notify communities affected, including municipalities and First Nations, before removing the last public telephone.

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.

Furthermore, the CRTC says they want to ensure that the notices regarding charges for calls made by credit card, telephone card or another non-cash method are sufficiently clear.

The CRTC is inviting Canadians to submit their comments on these issues by March 30, 2015, and they encourage Canadians to participate by:

• Completing the online form;

• Writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2;

• Sending a fax to 1-819-994-0218.

“Although payphones are no longer used as much as in the past, they continue to play an important role in society and serve the public interest,” states Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, “For this reason, we want to make sure that Canadians are notified when certain payphones are removed in their communities, and that they have the opportunity to share their concerns with local authorities. These authorities will be empowered to respond to the needs of their communities.”

In 2013, the CRTC imposed a moratorium preventing large telephone companies from removing the last payphone in a community.

The moratorium will be maintained until the CRTC has made its decision.