ARCHIVED -  Telecom Order CRTC 98-980

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Telecom Order

Ottawa, 7 October 1998
Telecom Order CRTC 98-980
On 8 August 1997, the Commission received an application from AT&T Canada Long Distance Services Company (AT&T Canada LDS), requesting an investigation of the terms and conditions of an arrangement through which Bell Canada (Bell) proposed to provide "ATM-based services" to i-Star Internet Inc. (i-Star). On 15 August 1997, AT&T Canada LDS further requested that this investigation be broadened to include the provisioning of "ATM services" by other Stentor member companies.
File Nos.:  8622-A4-02/97 and
1.In the case of the Bell/i-Star arrangement, AT&T Canada LDS stated that Bell announced, on its web site, the migration of i-Star to Bell's public Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network. The arrangement involved an 18-month deferral of the payments associated with telecommunications services to be provided by Bell, as well as the option for i-Star to compensate Bell with either cash or convertible debentures.
2.As to the other Stentor member companies, AT&T Canada LDS submitted that its concerns were based on the contents of an issue of the Canadian [sic: should read Communications] Network Letter where it was stated that: "(m)ost telcos have been operating regional ATM networks for some time...".
3.In both cases, AT&T Canada LDS indicated that, to its knowledge, no tariffs existed that would accommodate the services rendered, and specifically with respect to the i-Star arrangement, that no tariff would accommodate the proposed payment terms. AT&T Canada LDS thus expressed concerns over potential violations of the Telecommunications Act and requested that a process be set up to address its concerns.
4.In response to AT&T Canada LDS' concerns, Stentor indicated that the completion of Canada's first national ATM network is an important step in building a coast-to-coast network to carry communications traffic faster and more reliably. However, Stentor noted that the ATM network is not a service in itself; it is a transport infrastructure. Stentor further noted that all services provided by the Stentor companies, which utilize this ATM network, are provided in full compliance with regulatory requirements.
5.Moreover, Stentor, noting a possible confusion in terminology, proposed that ATM services be clearly defined. In so doing, Stentor first noted that ATM per se is a technology and not a service. Stentor submitted that ATM can support a range of telecommunications services. Stentor further submitted that a service is defined by the telecommunications applications and capabilities presented to the end-user, not by the specific technologies used to deliver these capabilities.
6.Stentor submitted that "ATM services" should only to refer to arrangements which provide the end-user with an ATM user-to-network interface (UNI) or network-to-network interface (NNI), as defined by the ATM Forum.
7.In contrast, Stentor noted that the use of ATM technology within a network does not require the use of ATM protocols at the terminal-to-network interface; services provided in this manner should thus not be referred to as "ATM services".
8.Finally, Stentor sought to clarify the meaning of the term "ATM facility". Stentor proposed that the term be reserved for the non-transport equipment that supports the ATM protocol, such as ATM core network switches and ATM edge switches, which are devices that deliver ATM capabilities and functionality.
9.The Commission agrees with the Stentor-proposed definition of "ATM service", i.e., those involving arrangements which provide the end-user with an ATM UNI or NNI.
10.The Commission considers, therefore, that arrangements where the ATM protocol is used within a network, but is not presented all the way to the user, cannot be termed "ATM services".
11.The Commission notes that it has no regulatory concerns with respect to the fact that the ATM protocol supports the service being offered. Indeed, as long as the regulatory requirements applicable to a service offering are being met, the Commission is generally satisfied.
12.With respect to ATM services, the Commission determined in Telecom Order CRTC 96-130, dated 19 February 1996, that, at the time, it would not be appropriate to forbear from regulating ATM services provided by Stentor member companies.
13.The Commission is satisfied that the Stentor member companies which currently offer ATM services are doing so pursuant to approved tariffs. The Commission notes that the provisioning of any such services by Stentor member company affiliates or other competitors is not regulated by the Commission.
14.Finally, with regards to the Bell/i-Star arrangement, the Commission notes that, on 25 June 1998, Bell advised the Commission that the proposed arrangement did not materialize due to the acquisition of i-Star by PSINet Limited in late 1997. The Commission thus considers that the concerns expressed regarding the then-proposed i-Star/Bell arrangement are no longer relevant.
15.In light of the above, the Commission is of the view that the concerns expressed by AT&T Canada LDS are unfounded and that further investigation is not required.
Secretary General
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