SaskTel says its billing system is outdated and obsolete, preventing it from implementing new consumer protection rules.

The federal regulator of telecommunications, the CRTC, recently ordered all cell phone service providers to protect customers from high roaming and data fees.

The new rule takes effect in one month.

But SaskTel asked the CRTC if it could delay that rule until next summer.

Excerpt from the CRTC decision on SaskTel:

"SaskTel submitted that its legacy billing and other back office systems are not technically capable of monitoring data roaming and data overage charges in real time. Without this capability, SaskTel will not be able to implement caps on data usage or roaming charges, nor will it be able to seek customers’ express consent to pay charges above the caps or to suspend data services if consent is not given once a cap is reached. SaskTel further submitted that the various components that comprise the billing system, including software, hardware, firmware, and the operating systems, are obsolete and are no longer supported by the vendors, which limits its ability to modify the system."


- Source: CRTC

According to the CRTC, SaskTel claims its billing system is "not technically capable of monitoring data roaming and data overage charges in real time."  

Because of that problem, SaskTel cannot follow the rule to protect customers from large roaming or data charges.
The company said it would have to hire people to manually review bills, in order to follow the rule.

"SaskTel further submitted that the various components that comprise the billing system, including software, hardware, firmware, and the operating systems, are obsolete and are no longer supported by the vendors, which limits its ability to modify the system," the CRTC noted.

The consumer protection rule says cell phone service providers must monitor data and roaming charges and if a customer reaches a certain limit, $50 or $100, the fees would be capped automatically. That is, unless a customer expressly consents to paying additional charges.

SaskTel said it is installing a new billing system, which will be ready in June, 2014.

The CRTC said SaskTel will have to implement the new rule by June 30, 2014.