Yet another way we're being done over by the cell phone companies. Discuss
Yet another way we're being done over by the cell phone companies. Discuss
If you wanna say something, speak into the mic. It's right above my balls.
I read that article a couple of weeks ago. Typical Canada, it's amazing that we bumble around.
I think we should be able to opt out of the fee until the industry fixes the problem.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
About as legitimate as a "System Access Fee". All thinly veiled ways of increasing margin.
Too sexy for this forum.
Someone with access care to post the whole article in a message body?911 leaves North in cold
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Kevin Doyle and Jessi Moekerk were driving across a snow-covered field near Yellowknife last month when the ground gave way and began to swallow their pickup truck whole. What they thought was solid earth beneath them turned out to be an unmarked pond. As the truck sank through the ice, the doors jammed against a rising wall of snow. Instinctively, Mr. Doyle reached for his cellphone and dialled 911. It was a mistake only a newcomer to the area would make.
The full text of this article has 1204 words.
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"Purchase single article" ... for $5?
Are they mad? Be happy I'm willing to read it in the first place!
"Yamaha" - it's Japanese for "fuck your sports car."
Kevin Doyle and Jessi Moekerk were driving across a snow-covered field near Yellowknife last month when the ground gave way and began to swallow their pickup truck whole.
What they thought was solid earth beneath them turned out to be an unmarked pond. As the truck sank through the ice, the doors jammed against a rising wall of snow.
Instinctively, Mr. Doyle reached for his cellphone and dialled 911.
It was a mistake only a newcomer to the area would make. And even though it ended well – a passerby rescued them after smashing through a window with a crowbar – locals still bristle at the story.
“Everybody in the North knows you don't get 911,” said James Anderson, a retired school superintendent who has lived in the region for decades.
Instead of getting help, Mr. Doyle heard a recording tell him to hang up and try another number.
Every month when cellphone bills arrive, Northern Canadians are forced to pay for a 911 service they can't access.
In recent years, cellphone companies have collected millions of dollars in 911 fees in less-populated regions across Canada where the emergency number is not offered, including Yellowknife.
Those charges are part of a much larger figure that is collected each year in the name of 911.
A Globe and Mail investigation into Canada's lagging 911 system has determined at least $13-million a month is collected in 911 fees on wireless bills across the country. However, the money is not necessarily spent on emergency services – even in places where 911 service is offered.
Instead, Industry Canada documents obtained through access to information laws show the government has been advised that some of the money is padding general revenues of the wireless industry.
Canada's three largest cellphone companies, Rogers Communications, Bell Canada and Telus, each collected between $3.7-million and $4.8-million a month in 2008, according to a document obtained by The Globe that shows calculations recently discussed at meetings with federal regulators.
While a portion of those fees, about 10 to 20 per cent, goes toward funding 911 dispatch centres, the cellphone companies keep most of the money, which Industry Canada classifies as “surplus” cash.
“I'm not a very sophisticated man … but to me it's fairly straightforward,” Mr. Anderson said from Yellowknife.
“The phone company tells you there is no 911 service, then they charge you for 911 service.”
People in the North figure they're being fleeced. The wireless carriers dispute claims their fees are unwarranted.
Keith McIntosh, director of regulatory affairs for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, says the money is used to pay costs associated with providing 911 service, such as the annual cost of linking cell carriers into the emergency dispatch system.
Since cellphones can be taken to different places, the fees are not charged according to location, the industry says.
The estimated $156-million in 911 fees collected each year across Canada is spread throughout the country's 21 million wireless subscribers.
The wireless companies are not required to disclose how their 911 money is spent, and whether they use all of it for the service, since Ottawa does not regulate the charges.
Nor do the cellphone companies voluntarily list those figures during quarterly earnings. This makes it impossible to tell whether the 911 fees, which were once needed partly to build infrastructure to link cellphones to the emergency phone system, have long since outstripped that purpose.
“These are unregulated rates, so there is no reason to break out any individual costs for any rate plans,” Mr. McIntosh said.
It's only $9 a year on his bill, Mr. Anderson concedes, “but it's the principle.”
With 21 million wireless subscribers in Canada, the 911 fees represent $1-billion of new revenue to the cellphone industry every 61/2 years.
It is a particularly bitter pill for Yellowknife to swallow. Though Whitehorse recently installed 911 service for residents, Yellowknife is still trying to scrape together enough municipal funds.
As well as charging 911 fees that may exceed the cost of providing the service – or in the case of Yellowknife are collected for services not rendered – the phone companies do not want to contribute money to upgrading Canada's outmoded system.
Adding the ability to locate cellphone callers if a person on the line can't speak or identify a location, is estimated to cost about $50-million. Such technology, which under privacy laws in the United States and Europe can be used only when 911 is dialled, is becoming increasingly critical as cellphones proliferate.
A letter submitted to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in late October by the wireless association states that “the most expeditious way to achieve public benefit objectives” is for Ottawa “to provide sufficient public funding” to complete the job.
“Where the industry is required to self-fund these obligations, the resources available pose a constraint to the pace of implementation,” the letter says.
The cellphone companies have told the government to pay for the upgrades by dipping into the $4.25-billion Ottawa made from selling wireless licences to new entrants in the cellphone market. However, the federal government has not said this is an option, leaving the two sides at an impasse.
The CRTC has decided to let the market decide whether the 911 charges are too high or unnecessary. If customers don't want to pay the fee they can switch cellphone companies, the federal communications regulator says.
However, this is not necessarily possible. Most cellphone companies charge 911 fees of between 50 cents and $1 a month. And multiyear cellphone contracts make it difficult for customers to switch companies without incurring significant costs.
In January, documents obtained by The Globe show Industry Canada went looking for money to help cash-strapped municipalities update their 911 dispatch centres or, in the case of places such as Yellowknife, install the service.
Industry Canada looked to the Infrastructure Canada Program, a fund used to renew aging infrastructure across the country. Rural and remote telecommunications equipment was listed as a priority for the program.
However, Industry Canada concluded in an internal presentation to staff that using ICP money for 911 services was not viable since “virtually all ICP funding has already been committed.”
That meant no federal government funding, and no fix to the problem.
What has upset Mr. Anderson in Yellowknife the most is being told by the wireless companies that he can either pay for 911 or not have a phone.
“They said it's just something everybody has to pay,” he said. “I'm not really satisfied with that answer.”
He has since asked a lawyer to file a class-action suit against Bell Canada for “unjust enrichment.” The company has protested the application and the lawsuit has yet to be certified.
In Yellowknife, Mr. Doyle and Ms. Moekerk are recovering from their car accident.
“It got pretty scary when we realized we couldn't get out,” Ms. Moekerk said this week. Despite paying 911 fees on their wireless bills, they know next time not to bother.
The recording Mr. Doyle heard after dialling 911 was brief: “Please hang up and dial the emergency number for your area. Or hang up and dial zero to reach an operator.”
Then the phone disconnected. “That recording isn't much help,” Mr. Anderson pointed out.
bl1tz...is that really you?
I'm an ass
Because I'm sure it's too difficult to forward that 911 call to the appropriate local number. You know, with technology so limited in telecommunism.
chicken strips are a sign of intelligence
unless you're at the track ;)
doesn't surprise me... i dont mind paying 9 bucks a yr for 911. those other useless access fees are almost creeping up to that a month! again Canadian alway pay more. we dont seem to mind getting ripped off. thanks bl1tz for posting full article @ least i saved 5$ towards those fees LOL
There is now apparently a 2010 deadline to install the required equipment.
or if it gets removed
Cellphone firms ordered to fix 911 system to save lives
Regulator imposes deadline for upgrade that will allow dispatchers to locate callers
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
January 7, 2009 at 2:00 AM EST
Canada's telecom regulator will force the cellphone industry to upgrade the country's 911 system, which has fallen behind other parts of the world and may be contributing to deaths involving wireless calls for help.
Government officials said they would impose a February, 2010, deadline to install the necessary equipment to give 911 dispatchers the ability to locate cellular calls in an emergency.
The plan has not been disclosed to much of the telecom sector. It comes after a recent Globe and Mail investigation found there were several cases of fatal or near-fatal incidents last year alone where 911 dispatchers could not determine the location of the caller.
The technology has been used in the United States since at least 2005, and in some cases the equipment needed is made in Canada. The Globe investigation found that a key impediment to updating the 911 system was a reluctance by regulators to impose a deadline, as the United States did, to end years of industry infighting on the issue.
“I thought that this would put the matter to rest,” Paul Godin, director of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said Tuesday. “We are concerned about the safety and security of Canadians ... that's sort of our guiding light if you wish.”
The decision came Tuesday from CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein, Mr. Godin said. Further details of the plan will be made public next month.
The regulator is giving the industry a year so that wireless companies will have time to put a working system in place “throughout the country,” Mr. Godin said.
More than half of all 911 calls in Canada come from cellphones.
The regulator, wireless companies and emergency dispatchers have been stalled in a bitter debate over who should pay to upgrade the system.
The industry wants public money used, while dispatchers argue the telecom sector should be forced to dip into the 911 fees it collects from consumers, which in some cases are retained as surplus revenues by the phone companies.
The technology might have prevented the death of an 18-year-old man who froze in a wooded area of British Columbia last week.
Matt Armstrong dialled 911 after losing his bearings overnight near Williams Lake, but dispatchers could not figure out where he was.
Police found his body on New Year's Day.
Mr. Godin said the regulator will provide details about how the upgrades will be paid for when documents are made public next month. It is estimated the technology will cost at least $50-million.
The decision was welcomed by the emergency response community. Calgary RCMP Sergeant Patrick Webb said he is confident the changes will save lives.
“We often have people calling 911 on behalf of their friends and they have no idea where they are.
“Or somebody phoning and saying ‘I'm on Highway 1 and I don't know where I am.' That happens on a regular basis,” he said.
In September, RCMP in Alberta got a call from a man who had been beaten and left in a field near the town of Brooks.
Although he dialled 911 from his cellphone, the 39-year-old man did not know where he was. Police found his body two days later after using a helicopter to search the area.
“We might have saved a murder if that had been possible,” Sgt. Webb said.
In another case last January, Saskatoon dispatcher Janice Marcotte struggled for three hours to keep Garth Pratt talking as ambulances searched in vain for his overturned van. Mr. Pratt had driven off a rural road in a snowstorm but was unfamiliar with the area. When ambulances found him, he was suffering from hypothermia.
Ms. Marcotte said the changes will make the job easier for dispatchers. “It's great news,” she said. “This is better than waiting, like we have been waiting.”
The Feb. 1, 2010, deadline is also designed to give dispatch centres across the country enough time to upgrade their own equipment to process the data that will be collected by the cellphone companies on emergency calls.
Dispatch centres are funded by provinces and municipalities, depending on the jurisdiction, and will likely have to secure public funding to prepare for the revamp.
Cellphone calls are located using two primary methods: triangulation, which measures the distance and direction of the signal from multiple cellphone towers, and global positioning systems.
GPS work well in remote areas, but usually require a clear view of the sky to link up with global positioning satellites, so parking garages and office towers can pose problems.
Triangulation is effective in cities, where cell towers are often numerous, but can be less accurate in rural areas where the towers are spread out.
Since cellphone location equipment is linked to the 911 system, it works only when the emergency number is dialled.
Sgt. Webb said if police wanted to use the tracking ability for other purposes, they would need a warrant first. “The most important benefit for us would be the life-saving aspect,” he said.
1994: Noticing an increase in bad outcomes involving cellphone calls to 911, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission begins talking about the need to install equipment to locate wireless calls. The technology is still years away.
2001: The United States imposes a deadline for cellphone companies to locate the majority of 911 calls by 2005 or face hefty fines. Canada decides to let wireless companies debate the matter further before acting.
2005: Some U.S. cellphone companies are unable to meet the 911 deadline and face fines of over $1-million. The technology becomes operational across most of the country. Canada has yet to test it.
2007: More than half of all 911 calls in Canada and the United States now come from cellphones.
Jan. 16: Saskatoon dispatcher Janice Marcotte struggles to keep Garth Pratt talking as hypothermia sets in. He dialled 911 after driving off a rural road in a snowstorm. An ambulance finds him after more than three hours of searching.
Aug. 5: TruePosition, Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of cellphone location technology, announces it can now locate an average of five million 911 calls a year in the United States.
Sept. 4: Sharmarke Warsame dials 911 from his cellphone after being beaten and dumped in a field near Brooks, Alta. RCMP are unable to figure out where he is and find his body two days later after searching the area with a helicopter.
Dec. 3: The CRTC says it does not need to force a deadline on the wireless industry to resolve the 911 cellphone issue, which is bogged down in arguments over who should pay. “We're taking the Canadian approach. We think it's the right approach. It's a transition approach,” CRTC director Paul Godin says.
2009 Jan. 1: Police find the body of 18-year-old Matt Armstrong in a wooded area outside Williams Lake, B.C. He called 911 after getting lost the previous night, but dispatchers could not determine his location.
Jan 5: Former FCC adviser Brian Fontes warns Canada not to wait until the death toll mounts before fixing the problem.
Jan 6: The CRTC announces it will impose a deadline on Canadian wireless carriers to install cellphone location technology for 911 calls. “I thought that this would put the matter to rest,” Mr. Godin says.
Having to pay $4 per news article doesn't seem much different.