Poor TELUS Service? The CRTC says the Lasqueti Community is blame
Like many Lasquetians our phone service has been very intermittent, we’ve had multiple outages that have lasted for weeks and in some cases months. Back in September of 2015 I started a CRTC complaint in which I stated:
“My home phone service is out of service on almost daily basis for between one and six hours. I have reported the outages to TELUS via their website/chat window but have received no response. In general, the level and quality of service delivered by TELUS on this island is disgraceful. The formerly buried phone lines now snake through the woods and ditches along the side of the road.
TELUS is not responding to growing service issues on this island and appears to have decided that the customers here do not deserve first class service instead they let the situation worsen.
The CRTC should hold a public forum and fact finding tour on this island to get a first hand picture of how bad the situation is. There is no reason we should bear with this service in Canada and the CRTC should order TELUS to make the necessary capital expenditures to improve the service here.
For the record I enjoyed excellent service for twenty years or more before TELUS started to take infrastructure short cuts.”
This complaint generated a file number and a series of emails from TELUS regulatory affairs and CRTC staff. The gist of them as been that TELUS faces unreasonable challenges in providing service to Lasqueti and as such we should take what we get and be thankful. Basically the view of the company and their regulators seems to be that it’s not reasonable for Lasquetians to expect phone service if we don’t have public power and have community policies that discourage poles and cell towers. I have been having a slow boil over the past year or so with this matter but the most recent few emails that I received concerning this matter has prompted me to share my experience with others.
On November 1, I received an email from TELUS Regulatory Affairs stating:
“On October 21, 2016, TELUS was successful in completing the required cable repair work which stabilized the services in your area. On October 28, 2016, the installation and maintenance crew were also on Lasqueti Island and confirmed this. A two-month service interruption credit in the amount of $90 plus applicable taxes was applied to your account for the degraded service you received. Thank you for your patience during this time.”
This would have been a lovely resolution to the problem except our phones went out exactly the day that the email arrived and have not worked since. Then to add insult to injury the CRTC Manager for the Western and Northern Region sent me a letter in which she stated:
“In the case of Lasqueti Island, we note that much of TELUS’ plant remains above the ground rather than the standard practice of direct/conduit bury or aerial mount on poles. We concur with TELUS’ explanation that at grade deployment, especially the wet environment on the island, the reliability of phone service is difficult to maintain because of the exposure to the elements and to machinery used to maintain the roads and foliage. Commission staff is aware of the community’s desire to avoid the use of poles on the island which then forces TELUS to lay its cable at grade deployment. Similarly, we acknowledge that the majority of this island’s terrain prohibits direct or conduit bury. Commission staff recognizes that TELUS’ use of available generator power instead of standard commercial power restricts its ability to offer seamless telecommunications service on the island. Lastly, we note the impact of limited transportation to Lasqueti Island in which access is limited to foot traffic passenger service only and private boats.
In light of the above factors, Commission staff accept that TELUS continues to be faced with significant challenges that have contributed to the heightened likelihood of above ground cable being damaged and the resulting quality of service issues for island service and delays in completing the work required. In Commission staffs’ view, the obstacles identified directly above are beyond TELUS’ control and require action by the community first if the provision of phone service to the island is to be improved.”
It is insulting to Lasquetians to have a regulated monopoly company whine to the government that it’s too hard to get to Lasqueti, the ground is too hard, and we have to use yucky solar power. It’s even more insulting to have the government staff that regulates TELUS blame our community for TELUS failure to maintain our phone service at quality levels that they historically maintained for over twenty years.
The CRTC said our community needed to take action if we want to improve our phone service, in this case I agree. My first action was to reject the closing of my file, I wrote and added a request that the matter be escalated to the political level by writing:
I think that if the CRTC is going to blame a community of Canadian citizens and taxpayers for TELUS delivery problems the statement should be clear and public and made by the Minister responsible for the CRTC. I will consider this case remaining open until the Minister responsible confirms that it is the Governments position that the Lasqueti community is to blame for our poor phone service.
If you agree that Lasqueti is not to blame for our poor TELUS service and think that CRTC should require TELUS to provide better service to Lasqueti (and who knows how many other rural remote communities like ours) please file a complaint with the CRTC. It’s easy to do and TELUS is required to respond. If you want to keep the ball rolling on my request for the minister to respond to the problem of our poor phone service, please reference CRTC Case #719891 in your correspondence. Let you MP and MLA know that you don’t think that our community is the problem and demand that TELUS be required to upgrade their infrastructure.
I also urge our local elected officials, especially Regional Director Anderson, to ask their staff to lobby their federal counterparts to demand improved phone service on Lasqueti. It surely must be important to the RD to have a working telephone infrastructure on Lasqueti or why would they bother with an emergency dispatch strategy that is based around making a phone call.
Here is a link to the CRTC Complaint page: https://applications.crtc.gc.ca/question/eng/public-inquiries-form.
|CRTC - PRRD Correspondence 2016 (pdf)||3.09 MB|