Bell asking for $1 payphone charge

Bell Canada and subsidiary Bell Aliant are looking to hike payphone rates to one dollar, double the current cost of 50 cents.

The companies have asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to approve the increase, saying the money is needed to modify the equipment.

Bell and Bell Aliant are also seeking to double the cost of non-cash payments — such as those made by credit cards — from the current one dollar to two dollars.

The Royal Canadian Mint is changing how the loonie is made this year, and the companies say they will face "significant capital expenditures" to update payphones across the country.

According to the companies' application, “the new one dollar coins will have different characteristics than the current ones and so will not be recognized by the current coin validation systems."

Bell and Bell Aliant also say that as consumers use payphones less and cellular devices more, price increases are needed to help recover costs.

Consumer groups are urging the CRTC to reject the application, arguing low-income individuals that rely on payphones will be disproportionately affected by an increase.

Telus meanwhile recently told the CRTC it will not seek to increase the cost of payphone calls from their machines in Alberta in British Columbia, keeping the price at 35 cents.