SaskTel still has 100% of local market, CRTC says
SaskTel is the only phone company in Canada that still has 100 per cent of the local phone service market, a federal report says.
However, the government-owned telco is still worried about unfair competition from internet phone service companies.
According to a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) survey released earlier this week, local competitors have made inroads on traditional phone company turf in every province but Saskatchewan.
In Alberta and Ontario, for example, the competitors now have about 8 per cent of the the local service market. In Manitoba and New Brunwick, the competitors' share is tiny: only 0.2 per cent.
Although SaskTel currently has the local market completely to itself, company vice-president of regulatory affairs John Meldrum says it is concerned for the future.
He says the internet can be used to offer local phone service and that could signficantly impact SaskTel.
Meldrum says the CRTC has adopted rules on the internet phone service which favour SaskTel's rivals. He says the regulator wants to force SaskTel to lose market share, to support competition.
"They want market-share loss and they're going to take steps to try and force that market-share loss. We just think that's wrong," he said. "The CRTC is saying, 'We want to hold back SaskTel. They've got to have all these artificial constraints. They can't talk to their customers for a year after they lose them.'"
Despite those concerns, voice-over-internet-protocol (or VoIP) service by competitors has yet to surface in any significant way in Saskatchewan.
For example, one of the big VoIP players, Vonage Canada, offers internet phones for use in Saskatchewan, but their service doesn't come with a 306 area code. Instead, users have to use area codes from Alberta and other provinces.
SaskTel said earlier this year it also plans to roll out its own VoIP service for the residential market at some point.