ARCHIVED -  Telecom Costs Order CRTC 98-14

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 Telecom Costs Order

 Ottawa, 26 May 1998
 Telecom Costs Order CRTC 98-14
 In re: Local Pay Telephone Competition, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 97-26
 Reference: 8650-C12-01/97
2.  Application for Costs by Queen's University (Queen's).
3.  By letter dated 12 February 1998, Queen's applied for costs in relation to its participation in this proceeding. Queen's submitted that it is representative of a group or class of subscribers which has an interest in the outcome of the proceeding, it participated responsibly, and its participation contributed to a better understanding of the issues by the Commission. Queen's noted that its funding is under increasing pressure, and that without an award of costs, it would find it difficult to participate in other Commission proceedings. Queen's also noted that it has no specific budget for participation in CRTC proceedings, and that the money for its participation had to come from other previously established budgets.
4.  Comments on the application were received on 25 February 1998 from Canada Payphone Corporation (CPC) and on 11 March 1998 from Stentor Resource Centre Inc. (Stentor). In its comments, CPC objected to sharing the burden of Queen's costs in this proceeding. CPC submitted that Queen's intervention was not made on behalf of all universities, but rather, was made to advance its own interests. CPC submitted that Queen's is contemplating becoming a competitive payphone service provider, and that since it has a commercial interest in the outcome of the proceeding, it must be treated in the same manner as its competitors. CPC submitted that Queen's should not be permitted to recover its costs from other potential entrants.
5.  In its comments, Stentor noted that the Commission has a long-standing policy not to award costs to interveners who already receive funds from government and other sources. Stentor submitted that Queen's has sufficient resources to enable it to participate without an award of costs, and that none of the special circumstances which have justified exceptions to the Commission's practice of not awarding costs in such circumstances have been shown. Stentor also submitted that Queen's participation was motivated to advance its own interests.
6.  In its reply dated 17 March 1998, Queen's reiterated that it had no budget for these proceedings, and that the expense of its participation was covered by budgets in areas which are now experiencing shortfalls. Queen's also submitted that the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure contemplate that the taxing officer may consider any funding from government or other sources when determining the amount of costs to be awarded, but not when determining the intervener's entitlement to costs.
7.  Awards of costs serve an important role in ensuring the meaningful participation in Commission proceedings of persons who would not be able to participate in the absence of such an award. The Commission notes that Queen's participated extensively at all stages of this proceeding, and retained experienced regulatory counsel to represent its interests. In addition, Queen's did not file its application for costs until well after the record of the proceeding had closed. In these circumstances, the Commission is unable to agree that Queen's lacked sufficient funds to participate fully. The Commission is of the view that even if Queen's did not have a specific budget allocated to this proceeding, it nonetheless had sufficient funds available to it to permit it to participate in a meaningful way. The Commission is of the view that an award of costs is neither necessary nor appropriate in these circumstances.
8.  In addition, the Commission notes in passing that it is clear from the record of this proceeding that Queen's is likely to provide competitive local pay telephone services. The Commission recognizes that Queen's situation is different from that of CPC or the Stentor members in that it is not currently a commercial entity. However, the Commission also considers that its interests in this proceeding were essentially the same as those of Stentor and CPC, and notes that Queen's may ultimately compete with some or all of the parties which would be named as respondents to any costs awarded to it.
9.  In view of the above, the application of Queen's for an award of costs in respect of this proceeding is denied.
 Laura M. Talbot-Allan
 Secretary General
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