ARCHIVED -  Telecom Order CRTC 99-1057

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Telecom Order


Ottawa, 5 November 1999


Telecom Order CRTC 99-1057


On 9 June 1999, Vidéotron (1998) ltée (Vidéotron) filed an application under Tariff Notice (TN) 1, for approval of its General Tariff and a Basic Listing Interchange File (BLIF) agreement. On 23 July 1999, Vidéotron filed revisions to TN 1 under TN 1A.


File No.: Tariff Notice 6297


1.In Tariff Notice (TN) 6297 dated 3 November 1998, Bell Canada (Bell) proposed revisions to its General Tariff pertaining to Monthly Distance Charges for Interexchange Channels. The company proposed wording changes to clarify the application of charges for the provision of local channels connected to interexchange channels.


2.ERORS Inc. (ERORS), acting on behalf of certain Bell customers, requested that the Commission deny Bell's application. ERORS submitted that the current wording of the local channel tariff only allows Bell to bill for certain types of local channels associated with interexchange channels, and that approving Bell's proposed wording changes would constitute a rate increase. Should the Commission approve the change, ERORS submitted that it should be on a going forward basis only.


3.Bell indicated that its proposal to clarify the tariff wording is not an attempt to raise rates but rather, responds to questions of interpretation and clarification from consultants and others.


4.Bell submitted that the current tariff wording describing the application of charges for local channels associated with interexchange channels has been in effect since February 1981. These changes were pursuant to Telecom Order CRTC 81-4 and the Commission's directive to Bell to file tariff revisions for interexchange voice-grade channels that would provide for the unbundling of the local access component from the interexchange component. Bell stated that since 1981, the company has consistently billed distance charges between the serving wire centres and the central office where the interexchange channel terminates, regardless of whether the interexchange portion reflects an adjoining or non-adjoining exchange application. Bell noted that oral clarifications were given when necessary. It is also the company's view that the point at which an interexchange channel terminates in a given exchange should not influence the resulting rating and charges for the local component. Bell suggested that to differentiate between the two configurations would effectively discriminate between customers by charging those with adjoining exchange configurations a different amount for their multi-point local connections within an exchange than those with non-adjoining exchange configurations and the same multi-point connections.


5.ERORS requested the Commission to examine the issue of refunds to customers. ERORS submitted that it has knowledge and confirmation that customers are being overbilled. ERORS submitted that it has submitted several overbilling claims and recovered refunds from Bell in this area.


6.Bell agreed that over the past year, some billing claims submitted by ERORS have recovered funds related to the billing of interoffice channels on the local portion of the interexchange channels. The company, however, does not view such adjustments as an admission of overbilling but rather as a one-time, good will gesture towards customers whose accounts were being audited by ERORS at the time. Bell has also indicated in discussions with ERORS its view that the existing tariff wording does not prevent Bell from billing such charges.


7.The Commission is of the view that the telephone companies have the responsibility to ensure that their tariffs are worded clearly. The Commission notes that the company had provided oral clarifications to customers regarding questions on the specific tariff at issue. The Commission considers that the company should have filed revisions to the tariff as soon as the first customer complaints came in.


8.The Commission notes that the company had to incur capital expenditures to provide the local channels in question. The Commission also notes Bell's submission that it has been charging consistently for those facilities since the tariff was put in place. The Commission also agrees with Bell that customers of local channels should not get preferential treatment for facilities associated with interexchange facilities connecting adjoining offices from those connecting non-adjoining exchanges.


9.In view of the above, the Commission, by majority decision, finds that Bell can continue to charge for those circuits in question, and that refunds in this case are not necessary.


10.The Commission further finds that the amended tariff wording proposed in TN 6297 requires additional clarification. Accordingly, TN 6297 is approved with one change, namely adding, in Item 3750.1(d)(3)b, a reference to Item 3740.1.a as follows:


"When a local channel is associated with an interexchange channel and the serving wire centre is not the wire centre at which the interexchange channel terminates, an additional charge applies, based on the local distance charge for additional 400 metre units (Item 950.3(a)(1)a.), for the channel between the serving wire centre and the wire centre at which the interexchange channel terminates (Item 3740.1.a), including Centrex applications. For a multi-point local channel this charge is based on the shortest distance that connects all the wire centres with which the service points (customer locations) are located."


11.Bell is directed to issue revised tariff pages reflecting this amendment.


Secretary General


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