To allow residents and businesses to call one another without incurring long distance charges, amalgamated cities/municipalities may formally request that Bell expand local calling areas (LCAs) within its territory in Ontario and Quebec.
The expansion of any LCA must follow rules set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
To learn more about the expansion of local calling areas, please see the Questions Answers below.
Note: If you're affected by an expanded LCA, be sure to re-program your communications equipment for local calling by removing the “1” from programmed numbers that used to be long distance. This is especially important for security and alarm systems. (Please see the answer to Q11.)
Questions and Answers
Q1. Why would representatives of a city or municipality ask Bell Canada to expand its local calling area?
- In order to allow all residents and businesses within a city/municipality and areas immediately surrounding it to call one another locally, that is, without incurring long distance charges
Q2. What CRTC process must a municipality/city follow to expand its local calling area (LCA)?
- Appropriate local, municipal, or regional government(s) pass a motion to create an expanded LCA and present it to the telephone company
- All long distance competitors affected by the expanded LCA are given the opportunity to identify their foregone long distance revenues and their current local telephone line counts (to calculate the surcharge)
- Telephone company does economic study identifying net incremental operating costs and amount of temporary surcharge
- Local, municipal, or regional government decides whether to proceed and, if so, directs telephone company to file application with CRTC
Q3. Which clients are affected by the expansion of an LCA?
- An expanded LCA affects all Bell wireline clients in those exchanges included in the new local calling area
Q4. Do all Bell residence and business wireline clients have the same local calling capability once an expanded local calling area has been implemented?
- No. Bell clients benefit to differing extents when a city/municipalities local calling area is expanded. For example, Bell clients in certain areas of a city/municipality have local calling capability to areas beyond the city/municipal boundary (e.g., to neighbouring communities outside the city limits). These clients maintain that local calling capability with the expanded LCA but other clients would not get it.
Q5.Will clients lose any of their current local calling capability as a result of the implementation of expanded local calling in their city/municipality?
- No. Existing local calling capability does not change as a result of the implementation of an expanded local calling area. Following expansion, clients will still able to place local calls to all of the same areas as before.
Q6. Are Bell Mobility clients affected by an expanded LCA?
- No. The local calling area for Bell Mobility clients would not be affected by an expanded LCA (i.e., an expanded LCA affects Bell wireline clients)
Q7. Is there a cost to clients for an expanded LCA? If so, why?
- Yes – temporary monthly surcharges apply to Bell clients within the expanded local calling area
- Surcharges intended to temporarily compensate all participating long distance service providers offering service in expanded LCA for revenues they will no longer receive once calls are local
- Bell is responsible for billing and collection of the surcharges on behalf of all participating long distance service providers, as well as distributing a portion to each
Q8. Did the CRTC approve the concept of a surcharge?
- Yes – the CRTC concluded it was reasonable for the telephone company and competitors to recover foregone long distance revenues resulting from expanded LCAs
Q9. Are clients consulted about expanded local calling area proposals and the related surcharges that would affect them?
- It depends on the amount of the surcharge. The CRTC determined that, if an expanded LCA proposal would result in a monthly surcharge for residential subscribers of more than one dollar per line, affected residential clients would have an opportunity to vote on the proposal
- If the residential surcharge is one dollar per month per line or less, then a vote by residential clients is not required
Q10. You say the surcharges are ‘temporary’. How long do they remain in place? Why?
- For three years (i.e., 36 months) following the date of implementation
- That’s the timeframe established by the CRTC
Q11. How will the surcharge appear on Bell bills?
- As a separate line item on the Bell bills of consumers and business clients within the local calling area, in the same way the 9-1-1 charge appears (where applicable)
Q12. Why do some clients located outside the city/municipal boundaries benefit from expanded LCAs?
- Typically, telephone exchange boundaries and municipal boundaries do not line up
- For administrative and cost reasons, it would not be practical to split up an exchange
- If any part of a telephone exchange falls within the boundary, the local, municipal, or regional government(s), must decide whether to include or exclude the entire exchange from the expanded LCA
Q13. What’s an ‘exchange’?
- An exchange is a basic unit for the provision and administration of telephone service and normally includes a city, town, or village and adjacent areas
- Exchange boundaries are determined by the location of the cable and switching equipment
- Generally, exchanges are named after the community in which the switching centre is located
Q14. Do clients have to do anything to accommodate expanded local calling in their areas?
- Because some long distance calls will be local with an expanded LCA, it is important for clients to re-program their telecom equipment for local calling, as applicable (e.g., remove the “1” from affected long distance numbers programmed into speed dial lists, auto-dialers, fax machines, modems and Internet connections, security or alarm systems, and devices for the hearing impaired)
Q15. What happens if a new client moves into an expanded LCA area sometime during the 36 months?
- New clients would pay the surcharge for the period of time remaining until the end of the 36 months (i.e., the 36-month period ends at the same time for all clients)
- For example, someone who moved to any of the exchanges affected by an LCA one year following implementation of the expanded LCA would only pay the surcharge for the remaining 24 months