First things first, I have to admit, that I have a love-hate relationship with the CRTC. While I’ve applauded the regulatory body on several initiatives such as the no non-sense guidelines on 911 services and ‘do not call’ violations, I’ve also strongly advocated the need to do more on other fronts such as preventing cellphone theft and implementing uniform payphone rates.
Of course, my underlying concern, is that the CRTC should always be sensitive to the telecommunication needs of Canadians. In general, the regulatory body has done a decent job on that front but there’s always scope to do better. The CRTC last week announced that it will continue the search for a sustainable solution to the telecom needs of Canadians with hearing and speech disabilities.
Though Text relay services are the norm for people with such disabilities, the regulatory body has been looking at the feasibility of offering a video service to better meet their needs. The regulatory body was in a similar situation three years back when it needed to decide the future of video relay services. Back then, the CRTC concluded that it needed more information on the matter, including the number of people requiring the service and its projected use and cost.
Faced with the same questions again, the CRTC last week decided that further study is required to better understand the different projections regarding use and cost of the service. The regulatory body recently received final reports from both Telus and Bell Canada on their respective video relay service initiatives. However, conflicting reports from the ‘Big Two’ regarding the projected use and cost of video relay service, has put the CRTC again in fact finding mode.
The regulatory body also plans to review other international initiatives and technological advancements to further improve the accessibility of communications services for people with hearing and speech disabilities. The reports submitted by the two wireless companies are available publicly here – Telus and Bell Canada.