ARCHIVED -  Telecom Letter Decision CRTC 94-11

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Telecom Letter Decision

Ottawa, 4 November 1994
Telecom Letter Decision CRTC 94-11
To: Interested Parties
Re: Notification of Network Changes, Terminal-to-Network Interface Disclosure Requirements and Procedures for the Negotiation and Filing of Service Arrangements
A. Notification of Network Changes
In Competition in the Provision of Public Long Distance Voice Telephone Services and Related Resale and Sharing Issues, Telecom Decision CRTC 92-12, 12 June 1992 (Decision 92-12), the Commission directed BC TEL, Bell Canada, The Island Telephone Company Limited, Maritime Tel & Tel Limited, The New Brunswick Telephone Company Limited and Newfoundland Telephone Company Limited to provide at least two years notice of any changes in their networks that could affect interconnection or access arrangements used in the provision of competitive services. In AGT Limited - Interconnection of Interexchange Carriers and Related Resale and Sharing Issues, Telecom Decision CRTC 93-17, 29 October 1993, AGT Limited was directed to provide similar notice. By virtue of Trunk-Side Access by Resellers to the Public Switched Telephone Network, Telecom Decision CRTC 93-8, 23 July 1993, notice must also be given to resellers with trunk-side access.
In a number of subsequent proceedings, questions arose as to which changes require such notification and as to the appropriate notice period. Accordingly, the Commission issued Notification of Network Changes and Procedures for the Negotiation and Filing of Service Arrangements, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 94-24, 29 April 1994 (Public Notice 94-24), seeking comment. The Competitive Telecommunications Association (CTA), Sprint Canada Inc. (Sprint), Stentor Resource Centre Inc. (Stentor), TelRoute Communications Inc. (TelRoute), Unitel Communications Inc. (Unitel) and Westel Telecommunications Ltd. (Westel) filed comments and reply in that proceeding.
Stentor submitted that the notification requirements should apply only to changes that affect the network-to-network interfaces between the telephone companies' bottleneck facilities and the competitors' networks. Stentor argued that there is no need for notification of network changes that are transparent to the interfaces.
With respect to the notification period, Stentor submitted that the current two-year notice period is too long, given rapid technological change. Stentor stated that a more flexible notification period would be appropriate and proposed that notification be provided when the decision is taken by the company to proceed with a change that would affect the network-to-network interfaces.
CTA, Sprint, TelRoute, Unitel and Westel generally submitted that, to ensure fair competition, it is essential that competitors have full knowledge of any changes to the local network that could affect the competitive supply of telecommunications and that notification of such changes be provided as early as possible.
Stentor replied that the proposals of the competitors would handicap both the telephone company and competitors by delaying innovation. Stentor submitted that knowledge of specific details of the inner working of the network is not required to permit fair and timely response by any competitor. Stentor submitted that there should be no mandated minimum notification period, since such a minimum could delay new bottleneck services. Stentor submitted that notification should be made when the decision is made to proceed with a change.
In the Commission's view, Stentor's definition of the changes requiring notification (changes involving network interconnection interfaces) is both restrictive and vague. The Commission considers that all changes that affect a competitor's use or potential use of bottleneck functions should require notification, and that such changes would include technical changes to interconnection interfaces, as well as changes to local network functions (including new functions) that could be used to provide competitive services. In the Commission's view, such notification is required to ensure that the Stentor companies do not confer upon themselves an undue preference contrary to the Telecommunications Act. However, the Commission notes that notification should only apply with respect to bottleneck services and facilities, and not to the telephone companies' competitive services.
With respect to the appropriate notification period, the Commission agrees to a certain extent with Stentor that a mandated minimum period may be counter-productive and may delay the introduction of innovative functions in the local network. However, the Commission is also concerned that, without a minimum notification period, a significant number of disputes may result. Accordingly, the Commission considers that notification should generally be given at the time a telephone company makes the decision to proceed with a change, or 6 months before the proposed change, whichever is earlier. The Commission notes that it is open to any interested party to apply to the Commission for a determination, should it consider that it was given inadequate notice in any particular case.
Finally, the Commission considers that notification should be provided to all parties of all changes, whether they are initiated by a telephone company or by a competitor's request, and directs the telephone companies to maintain an interested party list for network change information.
B. Terminal-To-Network Interface Disclosure Requirements
The Terminal Attachment Program Advisory Committee (TAPAC) was formed by the Department of Communications, now Industry Canada, in order to allow interested parties the opportunity to participate voluntarily in the development of network protection standards for terminal equipment. The certification procedure (CP-01) includes a requirement for network disclosure when a new service will require a new or augmented terminal-to-network interface, but will not affect the operation of existing customer-provided equipment. CP-01 states that disclosure is intended to provide timely information to manufacturers, to facilitate the competitive supply of terminal equipment and to provide an environment that encourages the development of telecommunications services.
While the Commission has, on occasion, approved a tariff contingent upon a carrier disclosing enough information to enable competitive supply of the associated terminating equipment, the disclosure requirements have not been incorporated into the tariffs.
On 1 June 1993, Unitel filed Tariff Notice 782, requesting approval of its proposed frame relay service. In commenting on the proposed tariff, Stentor stated that Unitel had not disclosed the terminal-to-network interface specifications in accordance with established CP-01 procedures. In Telecom Order CRTC 93-730, 27 August 1993, the Commission granted interim approval to Tariff Notice 782. In Terminal-to-Network Interface Disclosure Requirements, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 93-68, 19 November 1993, the Commission initiated a public proceeding to consider whether adherence to the disclosure requirements of CP-01 should be a pre-condition to tariff approval.
The Commission received comments from the Association of Competitive Telecommunications Suppliers (ACTS), the Government of British Columbia (BCG), Mr. K.C. Lees (Mr. Lees), Stentor and Unitel.
Stentor submitted that it supported disclosure through the current TAPAC process, but was willing to entertain disclosure as a pre-condition of tariff approval. However, Stentor submitted that all carriers should be required to file disclosures.
The other interested parties submitted that disclosure is not a proper process for TAPAC to administer. Mr. Lees stated that disclosure would be more properly supervised by Industry Canada independently of TAPAC. He also submitted that disclosure should only be required for monopoly services. Unitel submitted that disclosure should be required for monopoly services and for services that do not comply with public standards. Unitel also stated that TAPAC should not administer the disclosure process. ACTS submitted that the disclosure process is not aimed at preventing network harm, should come under the early supervision of the Commission and should ultimately be shifted to the Canadian Standards Association's Subcommittee on Telecommunications (CSA/SCOT). ACTS also proposed a new set of disclosure criteria that rely heavily on a public standard process within the Canadian National Standards System. BCG submitted that a fair disclosure process must be based on accepted standards and should apply to all carriers who permit interconnection of terminal equipment to their networks.
In the Commission's view, the issues associated with terminal-to-network disclosure are similar to those raised above with respect to disclosure of network changes. The central concern is that carriers should not be allowed to confer an undue preference on either themselves or a specific terminal supplier. Such a preference could arise where a carrier develops a network service that uses a proprietary interface supported by only one terminal manufacturer. The introduction of such a service would confer an undue preference on that terminal manufacturer and on the telephone company, if it was marketing that terminal. Similarly, a telephone company might confer an undue preference on itself if non-proprietary interfaces were used, but not disclosed in time to allow all terminal manufacturers to compete equally.
As noted above, the Commission has in the past required disclosure of terminal interface specifications as a precondition to approving certain tariff filings, based on a finding that disclosure is required to ensure that telephone companies do not confer an undue preference on themselves. The Commission continues to be concerned that non-disclosure can give rise to instances of undue preference, but is of the view that this concern applies only with respect to certain types of services.
In the Commission's view, there is little, if any, advantage to be gained by a carrier by not disclosing interface specifications for competitive services. Accordingly, the Commission considers that, for these services, the competitive market will ensure that carriers disclose the appropriate information.
However, with respect to bottleneck services, the Commission's concerns relating to telephone companies conferring on themselves an undue preference continue to apply. Accordingly, the Commission directs disclosure of terminal interface specifications for the telephone companies' bottleneck services. The Commission notes that, while it considers the existing CP-01 disclosure procedure adequate for competitive services, it will continue to monitor those competitive services in which the telephone companies have a dominant position and will require appropriate disclosure where necessary.
C. Procedures for the Negotiation and Filing of Service Arrangements
In Decision 92-12, the Commission directed the telephone companies to file proposed tariffs within 90 days of a request for interconnection. Unitel requested that the Commission specify the types of interconnection requests to which this process should apply. Accordingly, in Public Notice 94-24, the Commission requested comments on the types of service requests that should trigger a filing of proposed tariffs and the appropriate terms and conditions that should apply for processing service requests by competitors.
Stentor submitted that the 90-day tariff filing period referred to in Decision 92-12 applies only to the interconnection arrangements discussed in that Decision and that any subsequent requests are beyond the scope of the Decision. Stentor also submitted that only essential bottleneck services should be subject to a fixed period of negotiation prior to the filing of proposed tariffs. Stentor stated that, following a request for such a service, it would file a proposed tariff after an appropriate negotiation process. Stentor submitted that the determination of mutually agreed upon time frames that take cost and economic viability into account is the only practical approach for the development of additional interconnection arrangements. In addition, Stentor stated that any fixed period for negotiation could result in a competitor relying on the regulatory process to constrain the companies' ability to modify their networks in response to legitimate service complaints from customers.
Unitel submitted that negotiations for services not covered by the 90-day time limit have been excessively lengthy and argued that a pre-determined negotiation period should apply to all requests for service arrangements that result in additions or modifications to an existing interconnection tariff, including basic or enhanced functions associated with the access network. Unitel stated that, following a service request, a meeting should be held within 30 days to determine implementation of the request and that, if parties cannot come to an agreement, the Commission should arbitrate.
Sprint submitted that the 90-day negotiation period should apply to all types of service arrangements that involve the interconnection of a competitor to a bottleneck function. Westel generally supported Sprint's position, but stated that the 90-day period may not be appropriate in all situations and that the Commission should entertain requests to consider a different time period for specific services.
In the Commission's view, the open-ended negotiation process established in Decision 92-12 creates significant problems in the implementation of service requests. The Commission considers that this is particularly true where both parties do not have an equal interest and where the issues subject to negotiation are also subject to regulatory process.
The Commission agrees with those parties who considered that a mandated filing requirement should apply to bottleneck services and functions. Accordingly, the Commission directs the telephone companies, within 90 days of a request for a bottleneck service, to either file a proposed tariff arrangement or indicate why such a service request is impractical or a longer period is appropriate.
While the Commission considers that the 90-day time period for filing proposed tariffs is generally appropriate, it can foresee instances where a longer or shorter time period may be appropriate. In those instances, it remains open to parties to approach the Commission for a revision to the procedure.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
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