CWTA and Incumbents Donate Legal Costs to the City of Nanaimo

by Istvan Fekete on June 3, 2013

The CWTA and the incumbents have donated $22,000 to the City of Nanaimo to “support” the City’s 911 emergency operations, the wireless industry lobby group has announced.

Last year, the CWTA representing Rogers, Telus and Bell, initiated a lawsuit against the city of Nanaimo, questioning the legality of charging a 75-cent monthly user fee to carriers.

The background of the story is that none of the wireless industry players are willing to pay part of the cost of providing emergency 911 service in Nanaimo. The Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed a city bylaw that would have cost mobile phone carriers a $0.75 monthly fee to offset the costs to operate the Central Island 9-1-1 Call Centre.

The monthly fee was initiated by the city, who wanted help with the centre’s annual $1.5 million operating costs, which is currently shared with the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

As the 9-1-1 call stats show, 47% of the calls are initiated from landlines, while the remaining 53% come from mobile phones. The difference between the two is that landline users pay a monthly fee, while cell phone users and wireless carriers don’t.

As a result, the city has arrived at a $30 fee for non-participating carriers by dividing its annual cost by the number of users, which is currently estimated at around 50,000.

The CWTA claims this was illegal and sued the city of Nanaimo last year and challenged the Supreme Court’s decision, calling the $30-single-call fee “an authorized tax” favouring the CWTA and the wireless players. The decision also granted $22,000 in legal costs to the CWTA and incumbents.

Now, they are returning these costs to the city. “Our goal in determining what role wireless carriers can play in ensuring that 9-1-1 call centres are properly funded was never about costs,” said CWTA President & CEO Bernard Lord. “Canada’s wireless industry looks forward to working with the provincial government in coming up with a solution that will benefit the public safety community across the province and keep British Columbians safe.”

“The City and our Central Vancouver Island 9-1-1 Service partners appreciate the CWTA’s gesture to return these costs back to our community. Our desire has always been to have a province-wide solution on the Call Answer levy, and we believe that this is achievable through cooperation with the industry and Province,”
Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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