CRTC orders Telus to stop blocking cellphone traffic to the North

Telus insists it’s not blocking any calls. Instead, it says it’s taking steps to 'control the flow of traffic to Iristel,' according to a Sept. 10 submission to the CRTC.

CRTC grants 2 relief requests in ongoing dispute between Ice Wireless and Telus

The CRTC's ruling orders Telus to make sure all calls to Iristel's users in the North with an 867 number to connect by Dec. 3. (Shutterstock)

Canada's telecommunications regulator has issued a temporary order ruling Telus needs to make sure calls from its customers get through to Ice Wireless customers in northern Canada.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted two interim relief requests Friday in an ongoing dispute involving Telus and Iris Technologies Inc. Each company made those requests as part of their submissions in the case earlier this year. 

Iristel — the parent company of Ice Wireless — alleges Telus is actively blocking calls from Telus customers to Ice Wireless customers, and has been doing so since May 29.

Telus insists it's not blocking any calls. Instead, it says it's taking steps to "control the flow of traffic to Iristel," according to a Sept. 10 submission to the CRTC.

Telus argues that it's doing this because Iristel is engaging in traffic stimulation, a practice where Iristel numbers in northern Canada are assigned to services not located in the North, illegally boosting its profits from a previous agreement with Telus.

The CRTC has yet to rule on the validity of either claim, but says in the meantime, the reduced capacity on the network "is not reasonable nor in the public interest" and the issue of calls not being completed needs to be addressed in an "expeditious manner." 

10 days to change

The telecommunications regulator cited call failures reported by Iristel in its application and reporting from CBC News earlier this fall as evidence in the ruling. 

Friday's ruling gave Telus Dec. 3 as the deadline to ensure all calls to Iristel's users in northern Canada with an 867 area code connect normally. It also requires that Telus file a report with the CRTC confirming they've done so by the deadline.

It also granted Telus' request to make the fees Iristel charges to use its network "interim." That leaves open the possibility the CRTC could order compensation to Telus if the regulator rules in its favour. 

It's not clear when the CRTC will make its final ruling in the case. 


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