When Bell Canada reduced digital connection prices on June 3 in Ontario and Quebec, some ISPs may have not benefited.

“It’s been both good and bad. There have been some reductions in the central areas, but there have been some pretty stiff increases in other parts,” said Ron Kawchuk, outgoing president of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) in Toronto.

Tom Stephenson, president and owner of Internet service provider SooNet in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., said he thinks his prices went up marginally.

“In Northern Ontario, we’ve still got prices that are extreme,” Stephenson said. In looking at recent bills for Megalink — one of the services that had its prices reduced, according to Bell — Stephenson found new changes that he could not understand.

SooNet’s monthly charge in April was $4,407.90, then $5,127.90 in June, and then $4,449.70 for July with a credit of $662.06, all plus taxes. Those numbers add up to a before-tax total increase of $761.80 (from the April price) before the credit and $99.74 after the credit.

Stephenson said he has contacted Bell for information on the price changes but he had not heard back from the telco by press time.

Brian Shea, associate director of local access product management for Bell in Ottawa, said he couldn’t comment on the allegations of increases without specific account information, but he said there were no rate increases on the digital connections.

“We didn’t increase rates. Overall, this is a good news story for all customers that have those services…The Internet providers would actually have a net benefit savings they can pass onto their consumer and business customers,” Shea said, adding that he has seen letters from customers expressing their delight with the savings.

“There’s a real big emphasis to move customers from the low-speed analogue services to high-speed…By making the prices lower it makes it more economical for the customers to migrate over to the high-speed access,” Shea said. He explained Bell is able to make the price cuts due to more efficient technology and business practices.

Customers with existing contracts will see their prices drop along with new clients, Shea said.

The price reductions affect the Digital Network Access (DNA) set of services such as Hyperstream, Megastream, Megaroute and Megalink. Specific impacts to DNA as a whole are a reduction of monthly access charges for low-speed DS-0/DCS (Digital Channel Service) from $60 to $40 (33 per cent) and for DS-1 high-speed service by as much as 38 per cent, according to a Bell fact sheet.

In addition to the basic DNA reductions, Megalink customers received the following reductions: access ports with contracts of one to five years will have a discount up to 46 per cent; fully featured PSTN connections equipped with Calling Line ID and Calling Name ID will be reduced up to 25 per cent; streamlined and reduced service charges; and savings of up to 50 per cent on links to long-distance services.

Direct Inward Dial (DID) extensions, a PBX feature of directing inbound calls to specific extensions without the need of an attendant or extra dialling, have been reduced from $5.45 per extension per month to $4.

Multiple Appearance Directory Numbers (MADN), a Centrex service geared to improved telephone efficiency, has been reduced by 15 per cent, according to the fact sheet.

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