Canadian NetTalk Users Fight to Reclaim Phone Numbers in Carrier Dispute

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UPDATE, Jan. 21, 12 am ET: All Canadian NetTalk numbers are fully functioning. In a statement on Facebook NetTalk said that it will compensate users for their “inconvenience.”

Around 75,000 Canadian subscribers to VoIP service NetTalk have been unable to use their phones for nearly a week as they are embroiled in a dispute between the Florida-based phone company and its Canadian carrier Iristel.

According to reports, NetTalk allegedly failed to pay Iristel for more than a year and a half, amounting to around $2 million in arrears. Iristel’s lawyers reached out to NetTalk on Dec. 30, 2015 to arrange for all Canadian numbers to be ported to another carrier by Jan. 15.

The issue seems to be a bit of a he-said, she-said situation, as NetTalk said it complied with the demand while Iristel claims that NetTalk didn’t take the proper steps to port the numbers. The latest Facebook update from NetTalk on Jan. 19 the company said that “Iristel finally relented” and agreed to reactivate the numbers “rather than holding them hostage.” As of Wednesday it seems that the numbers still haven’t been reactivated.

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NetTalk said it “complied with the demand in full and made arrangements to port all numbers seamlessly to a neutral third-party provider, which would have involved no changes or interruptions” to its service. However, the “new provider made multiple attempts to initiate the transfer prior to the deadline but received no responses to all those requests,” NetTalk said in a statement it posted on Facebook.

Iristel president Samer Bishay assured customers that they will not lose their phone numbers and said that it is working with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to retrieve the phone numbers.

At the moment, however, Iristel recommends that NetTalk customers get a new number from a “reputable Canadian provider”, according to Telecompaper.

NetTalk was founded in 2008 and offers home phone service for $39.95 per year with no contracts. It is one of a number of similar services, including MagicJack, which aim to offer an inexpensive alternative to the increasingly expensive telecommunications services in Canada.

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