CRTC Orders Bell MTS to Fix Landline Outages in Manitoba

According to CTV News, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has demanded answers and solutions from regional telecommunications operator Bell MTS following mounting complaints from Manitobans of the company’s landline service being down for weeks at a time and call quality being “unacceptable.”

The Bell MTS-provided landline at St. George’s Anglican Church in Crescentwood has been out of order since April, making it hard for parishioners to reach the church. The church’s phone line remains down despite Bell MTS technicians having made a visit to fix the issue.

For three weeks during the first downpour of rain, one West End resident’s home phone became crackly to the point that “it was difficult to hear” the person on the other end. What’s more, the landline malfunctioned and ended up calling 911 on its own on three different occasions, leading to a wellness check from the local police.

In addition, one 84-year-old resident of rural Manitoba hasn’t had phone service since March 8, hampering their ability to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Taking notice of these complaints and more, the CRTC has ordered Bell MTS to identify all landline quality issues in the Winnipeg area and provide the federal regulator with a plan and timeline to resolve all of the problems.

“These issues and outages are impacting their ability to contact 9-1-1 and essential services,” the CRTC said in a letter to Bell MTS.

“Moreover, residents have been complaining of poor customer service, missed appointments, and that Bell MTS has failed to respond to service outages in a timely manner. Many of the complaints refer to deteriorating telecommunications infrastructure across the city.”

Bell MTS, a subsidiary of BCE Inc. that was created when Manitoba Telecommunications Services was acquired by the former back in 2016, said the extreme weather events this winter and spring have caused damage to telecommunications infrastructure.

“We have called in staff from outside of the area and our technicians are working overtime to get customers’ services up and running as quickly as possible,” the company told CTV News.

“As calls for repairs are up over 60 per cent, we have been connecting with customers who may be experiencing prolonged outages to offer alternative service solutions.”

Bell MTS added that it sandbagged its infrastructure to prepare for the flooding and deployed batteries and generators to combat power outages.

The CRTC has been making headlines for a variety of reasons in recent weeks. CRTC chairman Ian Scott, who is set to be replaced in September, assured Canadians on Monday that the Commission has no plans to regulate user-generated content on the internet under the federal government’s highly-controversial Bill C-11.