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Providers Iristel and netTalk dispute affecting thousands of Canadians

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The US-based provider netTalk was forced to enter into a legal dispute with Canadian Iristel. This was the result of a long-battle that saw over 75,000 Canadians without access to their numbers. Since GoneVoIP brought the news it then gained national newspapers’ attention. Which is good as anger over the standoff and issue were not decreasing.

At the center of the dispute is a former agreement in where netTalk acquired Canadian phone numbers from Iristel. Now here is where things start to get ... py. Iristel claims it has an unpaid bill from netTalk of 2 million dollars for said numbers. What netTalk maintains is that they got a notice from Iristel to port out all Canadian number to a new carrier by January 15th, 2016. When netTalk tried to port the numbers Iristel had effectively blocked access to all due to the numbers not being in good standing.  Canadian netTalk numbers provided by Iristel effectively report as ‘out-of-service’ to someone calling them. Seems like Iristel was ready to gamble accounting for customers’ anger.

Note the dispute was resolved in the end. It shall be noted the President of Iristel, Samer Bishay, who at one point was also the CEO of netTalk. Thus legal teams aren’t unknown to each other and are not that far apart. Reportedly CRTC and Iristel were working together to resolve the issue, likely the CRTC asked Iristel for flexibility since Iristel was the most hostile. While usually, CRTC doesn’t get into legal/contract disputes. It will be really good if the CRTC does take this case to update regulation so never a Business to Business issue impacts end subscribers/customers.

Iristel is behind the launch of a new service called Sugar Mobile, which combines wireless service with VoIP over Wi-Fi.  Unlikely the dispute to be related, but certainly this is not the publicity Iristel would want. t is in the best interest of Iristel to resolve the matter ASAP. Not only they would get paid any overdue fees but also this happens in Iristel’s local turf. It seems counter-intuitive to allow such bad advertising to carry on for long unless Iristel considers any advertising to be good… It had been heard from Samer Bishay that in the next couple of days the matter could be resolved. While that may be true, it could mean affected customers had been without service for about a week; simply unacceptable. Who’s is going to compensate for the interruption of service to netTalk customers? Again, this case shows a gap in regulations. Iristel nor anyone shall ever engage in transactions that are using customers as negotiation leverage. It is an appalling practice.

In the meantime affected netTalk customers can always get a new number to continue with their calling needs. It was reported netTalk had offered a new number. With that said, this can also be the right time to switch providers at once. File the number porting and once Iristel/netTalk dispute is resolved – the subscriber would get their former number back.

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