Smashing arguments used in previous cases
When it comes to justifying removal of unmetered local calls cable companies have put forward three arguments. One, about overloading of telephone networks, is dealt with on the CUT site: the two remaining arguments can both be smashed in this case.

In fact, CWC have tacitly agreed that the arguments are smashed by describing the removal as being 'for commercial reasons'. I presume that Videotron were presumably quite happy to make unmetered local calls available 'for commercial reasons'.

Unmetered calls were never intended to be used to connect to ISPs
This 'justification' for removing unmetered local calls has been used several times. Cable companies started offering telephone services in 1993 when the Internet was nowhere, so they've argued that they never intended unmetered local calls to be used to connect to ISPs.

This argument is smashed by Videotron's own literature. As well as Tom Grady's testimonial, have a look at the front, back and middle of a typical Videotron flyer. It could hardly be more explicit in encouraging unmetered local calls to ISPs - in fact, in other marketing material they ask you, if you're not sure, to ring them up and they'll tell you which ISPs have Videotron lines.

There's also the Videotron unmetered calls logo which appeared on every monthly bill up to July 1997 at the top of the first page.

But the ISPs told us to remove them!
This 'justification' is that ISPs were collapsing under the demand unmetered local calls made on their systems, got down on their knees and begged for them to be removed. Quite apart from the obvious point that ISPs in the USA and Canada, for example, seem not to be collapsing despite free or unmetered local calls and vastly greater Internet penetration there, let The Direct Connection, among other ISPs who have replied similarly, do the smashing this time:

We have had a considerable response regarding the CWC tariff change ...

... It is also clear that the free calls on the old Videotron network were a major incentive for users choosing Direct Connection. This offer has always been part of Videotron's service, and we have never had control over their tariffs.

As Videotron/CWC customers ourselves, we do have concerns over this issue, but we have no more real influence on their offers than any other customer. Please rest assured that we are adding our weight to the objection over this.
Text by Alastair Scott

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