As of Saturday, consumers will have to fish two quarters from their pockets to make a local call from a Bell pay phone.
'It would've been more of a measured response to the phone companies' calls for this to let them go up to 35 cents instead of straight up to doubling it.'—John Lawford, Public Interest Advocacy Centre
For people using a credit card or a calling card, the cost will be $1. In Bell's request to the CRTC to increase the rate, the company noted that local pay phone rates have not gone up in 25 years. Bell said that with fewer consumers using pay phones, many of the units are not generating enough revenue to cover their replacement cost.
But John Lawford, legal counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said the 100 per cent increase would be difficult on low-income Canadians.
"With the appearance of cellphones everybody says, just get a cellphone. But a lot of people can't afford them," Lawford told CBC.ca.
He said a more reasonable measure would have been a smaller increase, of 10 cents.
"It would've been more of a measured response to the phone companies' calls for this to let them go up to 35 cents instead of straight up to doubling it," he said.
PIAC is considering conducting surveys on pay phone usage to put together a case asking the CRTC or the minister of telecommunications to reconsider the rate increase.
The CRTC in late April said it was creating new pricing rules for Bell Canada, Telus, SaskTel, MTS Allstream and Bell Aliant. Under the new plan, companies are allowed to raise pay phone service fees to 50 cents and increase prices for local phone services in rural areas.
Bell is raising its pay phone price to 50 cents, its first price increase in 25 years.
Bell submitted its request to raise pay phone prices on May 14 and the regulator approved the request on May 24.
Allison Vale, a Telus spokeswoman, said the company has no plans to increase its pay phone rates in the immediate future.
Meanwhile, Rogers Communications Inc. on Friday ended service for analog phones. The company announced in January that it would be closing down its TDMA and analog networks, moving all customers over to a digital network.
Digital service offers improved security transmission, longer battery life and text messaging and other enhanced features.
Analog and digital service are both offered by Rogers' competitors Bell Canada and Telus.
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