ARCHIVED -  Telecom Order CRTC 97-749

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Telecom Order

Ottawa, 4 June 1997
Telecom Order CRTC 97-749
The Commission received an application from Bell Canada (Bell) under Tariff Notice 5908 (TN 5908) dated 24 December 1996, for approval of revisions to the company's Special Facilities Tariff Item G-253 providing for the introduction of Directory Information Service for Wireless Service Providers (WSP).
File No.: Tariff Notice 5908
1. Bell stated that the Directory Information Service enables a WSP to direct its end-users' directory assistance requests to Bell's directory assistance system, where the requests are processed via an operator and/or an automated response system.
2. Bell proposed a usage charge for each Directory Information Service request from a WSP end-user, with the usage charge being subject to a discount schedule based on call volume and contract length commitments.
3. Bell proposed, in conjunction with the introduction of the proposed service for WSPs, that it be allowed to discontinue WSP line-side access to Bell's regular Local Directory Assistance (LDA) service (generally made as a line-side 411 call).
4. Bell stated that WSPs may choose to continue routing their directory assistance traffic via line-side 1-NPA-555-1212 (Long Distance Directory Assistance (LDDA)) in lieu of subscribing to Directory Information Service and that these calls will continue to be charged at the existing tariffed rate of 75 cents per call.
5. Comments were received from Rogers Cantel Inc. (Cantel), Clearnet Communications Inc. (Clearnet), Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) and Microcell Telecommunications Inc. (Microcell).
6. Bell filed replies to the comments received.
7. Cantel, Clearnet, CWTA and Microcell objected to Bell's proposal to discontinue line-side access to its directory assistance services.
8. These parties argued that Bell's proposal alters the existing regulatory regime established for WSPs and that Bell has not substantiated that the current 411 service is uneconomic and results in a subsidisation of WSP operations.
9. Parties submitted that under the proposed tariff, WSPs would have no option other than to execute term contracts in order to obtain Directory Information Service.
10. The interveners argued that this was inappropriate as the provision of directory assistance is soon to become competitive with the availability of Mediated Real-Time Access (MRTA).
11. Microcell noted that the Local Interconnection and Network Component Unbundling proceeding announced in Implementation of Regulatory Framework - Local Interconnection and Network Component Unbundling Telecom Public Notice CRTC 95-36, 11 July 1995 (PN 95-36) would address a number of issues relevant to TN 5908, including mutual compensation for interconnection, compensation for providing subscriber directory listings, and the scope and regulation of essential services.
12. Microcell submitted that until this and all other items have been dealt with by the Commission in the PN 95-36 proceeding, it would be inappropriate and premature for the Commission to rule on TN 5908.
13. Cantel submitted that the resource cost study filed by Bell in support of TN 5908 should be unbundled to show costs for each rate item and to ensure, specifically, that the rate for Operator Services Connection complies with the Commission's approved principles for costing methodology of cost causality plus a mark-up of at most 25%.
14. Clearnet submitted that if the Commission does approve TN 5908, the rates should be made interim pending the Commission's ruling on the appropriate rating approach for essential facilities in the PN 95-36 proceeding.
15. Bell submitted that the more favourable rates provided to customers who select long-term contracts reflect cost savings on the part of the company.
16. In response to the interveners' argument that there is no basis to suggest that the existing 411 rate is not compensatory, Bell stated that no charge applies to directory assistance calls where the number is not contained in the local directory, the listing has been modified or no listing is found.
17. Bell further noted that the current line-side arrangement results in a situation where WSP end-customers dialling 411 for directory assistance are not assessed a charge for every call.
18. In light of the above, Bell submitted that continued access to the company's directory assistance service via 411 line-side dialling is no longer appropriate.
19. Bell submitted that it has provided the Commission with all of the costing detail necessary for the Commission to render a decision on the appropriateness of the proposed rates.
20. The Commission notes that under Bell's proposal, WSPs have the choice between line-side access via 1-NPA-555-1212 and use of Directory Information Service.
21. The Commission agrees that it is no longer appropriate for continued WSP access to the directory assistance database via 411 line-side dialling.
22. The Commission notes that the current tariff regime for the interconnection of WSPs with Bell's Public Switched Telephone Network was approved on an interim basis in Telecom Order CRTC 96-687 dated 28 June 1996.
23. The Commission notes that MRTA and other competitive alternatives are not yet available.
24. The Commission notes that Cantel stated that the earliest realistic time by which WSPs will be capable of establishing their own directory assistance service is during the latter half of 1997.
25. In light of the foregoing, the Commission is of the view that the minimum commitment period of one year proposed by Bell for the provision of discounts with respect to the Directory Information Service could impede the development of competitive alternatives.
26. The Commission considers that, prior to 1 January 1998, competitors should be allowed to commit for periods varying from 3 months to 1 year and still obtain the discount proposed by Bell for one-year contracts.
27. For contracts executed on or after 1 January 1998, the Commission considers that it would be appropriate for discounts to be applied according to the discount table filed in the TN 5908 proposal.
28. The Commission is of the view that an overall Directory Information Service resource cost study (as filed by Bell) is appropriate, rather than separate studies for each rate element, as the filed study reflects all costs causal to the service.
29. In light of the foregoing the Commission orders that:
30. (a) The application filed by Bell under Tariff Notice 5908 is granted interim approval with the following change:
For contracts signed before 1 January 1998, the discount applicable to one-year contracts also applies to contracts signed for contracted periods varying from three months to one year.
(b) Bell is directed to issue forthwith tariff pages reflecting the above.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
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