ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2000-51

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Public Notice CRTC 2000-51

Ottawa, 31 March 2000
Bell ExpressVu – Service to Multiple-Unit Dwellings
In Public Notice CRTC 1999-199 dated 21 December 1999, the Commission sought comments on a proposal by Bell ExpressVu Inc. and BCE Inc., the partners in a limited partnership known as Bell ExpressVu. Bell ExpressVu, a national, direct-to-home (DTH) satellite distribution undertaking, had informed the Commission that it intends to serve multiple unit dwellings (MUDs) under its current DTH licence using a variety of technical configurations. These configurations include servicing single MUDs, connecting MUDs on the same property, and connecting MUDs by crossing property lines, public streets and highways.
The Commission has reached the following conclusions:
Bell ExpressVu’s current licence permits it to provide service to units in a MUD (or several MUDs on the same property) via an internal distribution system.
Bell ExpressVu’s current licence does not permit it to employ a distribution system that would interconnect MUDs by crossing property lines, or by crossing over or under any public street or highway. Nevertheless, in the interest of promoting competition, the Commission would be prepared to consider an application by Bell ExpressVu for a licence amendment authorizing it to do so.


Decision CRTC 95-901 authorized Bell ExpressVu to carry on a "national, direct-to-home (DTH) satellite distribution undertaking [that] will provide programming services exclusively to individual subscribers on a DTH basis." At that time, the Commission did not specifically address the matter of DTH licensees serving MUDs. It notes, however, that the definition of "subscriber" contained in the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations includes "a household of one or more persons, whether occupying a single-unit dwelling or a unit in a multiple-unit dwelling, to which service is provided directly or indirectly by a licensee". The Commission also notes that the authority to operate a DTH undertaking is distinct from an authority to operate a satellite relay distribution undertaking, which delivers signals to distribution undertakings and not directly to subscribers.


In letters to the Commission dated 8 September and 21 October 1999, Bell ExpressVu informed the Commission that it intends to provide service to MUDs under its current DTH licence, potentially using three different technical configurations.
Technical Configurations


Bell ExpressVu explained that there are a number of practical constraints on its ability to serve individual subscribers in MUDs through the installation of individual satellite dishes for each. These include prohibitions by landowners against the installation of multiple receiving dishes on a building, and the fact that such dishes installed in individual suites generally require a southerly orientation in order to receive satellite signals. Bell ExpressVu set out three different technical configurations that it proposed to employ in order to address individual circumstances. These are summarized below:
  • serving residents of a single building using a common dish;
  • serving residents of neighbouring buildings using a common dish on one building connected via common facilities to the neighbouring building(s); and
  • serving residents of neighbouring buildings using a dish installed on a building at a remote location from those being served, connected via common facilities to those buildings.


The licensee noted that the second and third of these configurations could include situations where common facilities would cross property lines, public streets or highways.
Interventions and Bell ExpressVu’s response


The Commission received 15 submissions in response to PN 1999-199 calling for comments on Bell ExpressVu’s proposals. Of these, twelve were in support, one was neutral and three were opposed. Bell ExpressVu has replied to these comments. The Commission has considered the views expressed by all parties in making its findings.
The Commission’s findings


In evaluating the configurations proposed by Bell ExpressVu for serving MUDs, the Commission has considered the interests of subscribers, as well as the competition concerns raised by conventional cable operators in their comments.


The Commission recognizes that, for the reasons listed in Bell ExpressVu’s letters to the Commission, it would be difficult for each unit in a MUD to install a dish to receive DTH signals, and that the use of a common dish presents a practical technological solution to this problem.


The Commission is of the opinion that Bell ExpressVu’s current licence allows it to serve subscribers in an individual MUD using a common dish and an internal distribution system. The Commission considers that, under its current licence, Bell ExpressVu would also be permitted to interconnect MUDs on the same property for the purpose of distributing DTH signals. The Commission is of the opinion that either of these configurations would offer residents of MUDs the same benefits of competition available to residents of single family dwellings, and is consistent with the definition of "subscriber" contained in the regulations. In both circumstances, however, the Commission expects the licensee to retain control over the authorization of its services for each individual subscriber and maintain a separate billing account with each.


The Commission is satisfied that Bell ExpressVu has addressed concerns regarding the availability of local signals, in that it intends to share distribution systems with exempt master antenna television systems, as permitted in Public Notice CRTC 2000-10.


As for any configuration in which Bell ExpressVu’s plant would cross property lines, or public streets or highways, the Commission considers that the licensee would then be carrying on an undertaking that, for all practical purposes, is identical to one carried on by a cable distribution undertaking. The Commission has concluded that Bell ExpressVu’s current licence does not permit this type of distribution system.


The Commission notes that there are a number of regulatory differences between DTH and cable distribution undertakings. Given these regulatory differences, the Commission considers that Bell ExpressVu should be required to apply for a licence amendment in order to expand the scope of its licence. The Commission reminds Bell ExpressVu that, in its application, it should address whether any measures (or limits) would be necessary to ensure competitive equity among other types of distribution undertakings.


The policy determinations reached in this notice regarding permissible configurations for DTH undertakings would apply to all other DTH licensees that are in the same circumstances.
Related CRTC documents

• Public Notice CRTC 1999-199 - Bell ExpressVu – Interest in serving multiple unit dwellings under its direct-to-home licence

• Public Notice CRTC 2000-10Final revisions to certain exemption orders 

Broadcasting Distribution Regulations

Secretary General
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