07/16/2013 12:01 EDT

Bell Payphone Rate Increase Application Denied By CRTC


The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has denied an application by Bell to double the cost of a call from a payphone.

In a Tuesday press release, the CRTC says the application from Bell Canada, Bell Aliant Regional Communications and Télébec to hike rates to $1 for cash calls and $2 for credit-paid calls was denied because of the decreasing usage of payphones.

The Bell companies said hiking rates would increase revenue, eventually slowing down the rate at which payphones were being removed.

On its website, the CRTC notes that "after payphone rates were increased in 2007, demand for Bell Canada et al.’s payphone service and revenues generated by the service dropped considerably, and a significant number of payphones were removed from service on an annual basis."

"This trend is likely to continue regardless of the rate charged for payphone services, and highlights the need to reassess the role of payphones," said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, in the release.

To better understand the needs of consumers, the regulator launched a consultation Tuesday, asking for comments and feedback on the use and role of payphones.

The feedback is also intended to determine if it is "appropriate to prohibit telephone companies from removing the last payphone in a community" until the consultation is over.

"This consultation will give us a clearer picture of how payphones are being used and by whom," Blais said.

"It will also help us assess how possible rate increases and the removal of payphones may affect Canadians, and whether any regulatory action is necessary."

It currently costs 50 cents for cash calls and $1 for a call made by a credit card. The last time the telecommunication giant doubled the price of a phone call was in 2007, notes the National Post.

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