ARCHIVED -  Telecom Order CRTC 99-32

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Telecom Order

Ottawa, 20 January 1999
Telecom Order CRTC 99-32
On 15 May 1998, the Commission received an application from Canquest Communications (Canada) Inc. (Canquest) requesting that the federally regulated Stentor member companies (the companies) provide the specific locations of card-reader equipped public telephones, by city, by province in Canada.
File No.: 8650-C36-01/98
1.Canquest submitted that it has subscribed to the Card Swipe Access service offered by Stentor Resource Centre Inc. (Stentor) on behalf of the companies. Canquest argued that it is unreasonable for it to invest in a service without the practical information of where such services are available. Canquest noted that this information is imperative for its marketing plans.
2.In its comments of 29 June 1998, Stentor noted that Card Swipe Access service was developed by the companies to meet the card swipe requirements of competitors. The service allows competitors' cards to be swiped at over 80,000 public telephones equipped with card-readers located across Canada for a single payment of $36,500, thus offering exceptional value to the competitors. The approved tariff for Card Swipe Access service does not include the provision of any public telephone location information to customers.
3.Stentor noted that card-reader equipped public telephones comprise approximately one-half of the companies' public telephones and are typically located in higher traffic areas. Stentor submitted that the release of comprehensive location information would provide potential local pay telephone providers with valuable information allowing them to more readily target the companies' current public telephone locations and location providers, resulting in competitive harm to the companies.
4.Stentor further submitted, among other things, that the companies do not provide a list of public telephones equipped with card-readers locations to their own retail or wholesale calling card customers, thus the provision of the information requested would be costly to the companies and difficult to administer.
5.In its reply comments of 9 July 1998, Canquest submitted that it has been a service bureau for prepaid telephone cards for over four years and has not participated in any proceedings related to pay telephone competition. Canquest argued that any company which plans to enter the pay telephone market already knows the location of the high traffic areas and would not need the specifics of the locations of all card-reader equipped public telephones. Canquest restated that it needs the requested information for marketing reasons, as decisions made by its clients will rely heavily on this information.
6.The Commission notes that subsequent to Canquest's application, the Commission issued Local Pay Telephone Competition, Telecom Decision CRTC 98-8 on 30 June 1998 (Decision 98-8) introducing competition in the local pay telephone service market in Canada.
7.The Commission stated in Decision 98-8 with respect to the issue of the establishment of public interest pay telephones that it intends to hold a review within a three-year time frame to assess the requirement for public interest pay telephones. Pursuant to Decision 98-8, the companies were directed to file reports within 45 days of the Decision indicating where pay telephones were located as of 1 July 1998 in their respective territories. On 14 August 1998, the companies filed this information in confidence.
8.In light of this requirement in Decision 98-8, the Commission considers that the incremental costs to the companies to provide and administer the information requested by Canquest would not be as great as claimed by Stentor. However, the Commission finds that while pay telephone location information is, in one sense, in the public domain, the compilation prepared by the companies has commercial value. Based on the record of this proceeding, the Commission considers that it should not force the companies to release the information, given the commercial value of the information. In these circumstances, the Commission is of the view that the harm likely to result from release of the requested information to card swipe access service customers such as Canquest outweighs the public interest, and accordingly, the information in question need not be released.
9.The Commission notes that, at the moment, the companies do not provide this information to their own retail or wholesale customers for calling card services. The Commission considers that there is no undue preference conferred on the companies as their retail and wholesale customers would be treated equally to the retail and wholesale customers of the competitive phone card providers such as Canquest.
10.In light of the foregoing, the Commission hereby denies Canquest's application.
Secretary General
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