Telecom Decision CRTC 2002-14
Ottawa, 8 March 2002
Incumbent local exchange carrier service intervals for unbundled local loop orders
Since the release of Telecom Decision CRTC 97-8, the competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) have maintained that the timely provision and installation of local service is a key customer consideration when requesting service. The CLECs have asked the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) to provide CLECs with unbundled loops within the same service intervals that ILECs apply to themselves.
This decision addresses a continuing dispute regarding service-interval issues. CLECs submitted that service intervals proposed by ILECs misinterpreted the Commission's directives of 31 October 2000, and that the ILECs' proposed intervals would provide ILECs with a competitive advantage.
The Commission directs that, as of 1 April 2002, the ILECs provide CLECs, at least 90% of the time, with:
- migrated unbundled type A and B loops, including all sub-types, within two business days; and
- new unbundled type A and B loops, including all sub-types, within five business days.
1. In Telecom Decision CRTC 97-8, Local competition, dated 1 May 1997, the Commission directed incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) to make unbundled local loops available to competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). Since the release of that decision, the CLECs have maintained that the timely provision and installation of local service is a key customer consideration when requesting service. The CLECs have asked the ILECs to provide CLECs with unbundled local loops within the same service intervals that ILECs apply to themselves.
2. In a letter decision dated 31 October 2000 concerning service intervals for the provision of new unbundled loops (the letter decision), the Commission directed ILECs "to provide unbundled loops to CLECs within service intervals no greater than those within which they provide loops to themselves, at least 90 percent of the time." The Commission also directed the ILECs to implement the Commission's directives by 1 February 2001.
3. With the exception of Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel), the ILECs submitted revised loop service intervals in January 2001 to the participants to the Business Process Working Group (BPWG) of the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC). Subsequently, during meetings of the BPWG, CLEC representatives identified a number of concerns with the revised service intervals.
4. The CLECs maintained that the intervals did not comply with the Commission directives in the letter decision. At a BPWG meeting on 29-30 March 2001, the parties agreed that the issues dealing with the service intervals for unbundled local loops would be submitted to the Commission for a determination.
5. On 18 April 2001, the parties submitted their respective dispute position papers to the Commission.
6. The CLEC position was represented in a position paper filed by AT&T Canada Telecom Services Company, AXXENT Corp., Call-Net Communications Inc., EastLink Limited, Gateway Telephone Limited and GT Group Telecom Services Corp. (the Competitors).
7. The ILEC position was represented in two position papers filed by TELUS Communications Inc. (TCI), and by Bell Canada on behalf of itself, Aliant Telecom Inc., MTS Communications Inc. and SaskTel (jointly, the Incumbents).
Position of the Competitors
8. In their position paper, the Competitors requested that the Commission:
- establish service intervals for unbundled local loops that are no greater than the service intervals ILECs provide to themselves, regardless of the manner in which the order is submitted by the CLEC to an ILEC;
- set forth standard service intervals for both migrated unbundled local loop requests and new unbundled local loop requests, for both type A and B loops, including all sub-types;
- determine that service intervals include day zero;
- set the same unbundled local loop service interval in both rural and urban areas; and
- direct ILECs to coincidentally reduce the CLECs' unbundled local loop service intervals to match ILEC service intervals, whenever the ILECs reduce their own service intervals.
9. The Competitors claimed that the ILECs had misinterpreted the letter decision. The Competitors submitted that the letter decision directed the ILECs to apply the service intervals they apply to themselves rather than the service intervals they provide to their retail service customers.
10. The Competitors submitted that the service intervals proposed by the ILECs in early 2001 would provide the ILECs with a competitive advantage because such intervals permit them to provide service to their customers faster than to the Competitors. For example, the Competitors submitted that, while the ILECs provide migrated unbundled local loops to themselves within two days, they proposed to take five business days to provide those loops to the CLECs.
11. Furthermore, while the ILECs proposed to provide new unbundled local loops within five days, the Competitors stated that the ILECs exclude day zero from the count. Day zero is the day on which an ILEC receives a CLEC's request for an unbundled local loop.
12. The Competitors submitted that the ILECs proposed adding two days to complete a loop selection report, over and above the five-day service interval for the provision of certain loop sub-types. The Competitors stated that this report is not required and is rarely requested by the CLECs.
13. Regarding the ILECs' longer service intervals for rural areas compared to urban areas, the Competitors submitted that the ILECs classified towns and areas with reasonable population density as rural, including a large portion of the Toronto area. Given this, and the fact that CLECs will likely not provide local service in sparsely populated areas, but will target reasonably populated areas, the Competitors suggested that there should be no difference in unbundled loop service intervals between urban and rural areas.
14. Finally, the Competitors submitted that the ILECs' service intervals should be the same, regardless of the manner in which the order is submitted by the CLEC to the ILEC. More specifically, the Competitors objected to Bell Canada's proposal to take two additional days to process loop requests Bell Canada receives by fax. The Competitors submitted that electronic file transfer, which is the industry's preferred method, is expensive and is not warranted where the number of requests is low.
Position of the Incumbents
15. According to the Incumbents, the ILECs' service intervals comply with the directives in the letter decision. They submitted that the letter decision conclusively addressed the other issues raised by the Competitors.
16. The Incumbents submitted that their service intervals find the proper balance by providing the ILECs with the time required to complete all the work to unbundle an end-user's existing loop without jeopardizing the end-user's quality of service.
17. The Incumbents also submitted that, contrary to the Competitors' assumption, experience has shown that migrating an existing loop requires additional technical and administrative work on the ILEC's part. For example, the Incumbents claimed that dispatching field technicians on such occasions is required far more frequently than originally anticipated. They also noted that this will increase as CLECs deploy new technologies. The Incumbents further stated that they must unbundle the loop prior to migration and co-ordinate the administrative work associated with the disconnection to minimize the disruption to the end-user's service.
18. Bell Canada specifically claimed it needs additional time to process and respond to faxed loop requests because of the extra manual work involved. Bell Canada submitted that its systems are designed to receive electronic requests, which are now the industry standard, and can thus deal with electronic transmissions more effectively than orders it receives by fax.
Scope of the dispute
19. TCI questioned whether service intervals for migrated unbundled local loops were within the scope of this dispute since the letter decision specifically dealt with service intervals for new unbundled local loops. The Commission notes that the current dispute deals with both new and migrated unbundled local loops. The BPWG participants, including TCI, briefly discussed this issue at the 29-30 March 2001 meeting and agreed that the question was immaterial since the current dispute addresses both migrated and new unbundled local loops. Furthermore, all parties explicitly addressed service intervals for new and migrated loops in their position papers.
20. The Commission finds that, regardless of the issues dealt with in its letter decision, the BPWG participants expanded the scope of the current dispute to include migrated unbundled local loops. This decision therefore deals with service intervals for migrated and new unbundled local loops.
The loop service intervals
21. The Commission's directive in the letter decision clearly stated that the ILECs had to provide the CLECs with the same service intervals they provide to themselves in order to provision a local loop. This was meant to afford both ILECs and CLECs an equal opportunity to provide service to end-users in a timely manner. The ILECs' misinterpretation of the letter decision had the effect of ignoring the plain meaning of the Commission's directive and thus allowed the ILECs to maintain a competitive advantage over the CLECs.
22. The evidence indicates that the ILECs provide new unbundled A and B type loops (including loop sub-types) to themselves within five business days. The ILECs provide migrated unbundled A and B type loops (including loop sub-types) to themselves within two business days. The ILECs must therefore provide the CLECs with new and migrated unbundled A and B type loops (including loop sub-types) within these same service intervals.
23. The Commission does not agree with the Incumbents that they need the same service intervals to provide migrated unbundled local loops and certain loop sub-types to CLECs as they do to provide new unbundled local loops. The Commission notes that migrated loops or loop sub-types are already in place and in working order when CLECs request them. In the Commission's view, any additional technical and administrative work should not delay service to the CLECs.
24. As for the ILECs' claim that they need two additional days to complete loop selection reports for certain loop sub-types, the Commission notes that CLECs rarely request such reports. NBTel Inc. (NBTel) does not provide such reports unless requested by the CLEC. In the Commission's view, the NBTel practice is the most appropriate one. Therefore, the ILEC may only add two days to the service intervals approved in this decision to complete a loop selection report when a CLEC requests such a report. Where a CLEC does not request a loop selection report, the ILEC must provision new and migrated unbundled A and B type loops (including loop sub-types) within the service intervals approved in this decision.
25. Accordingly, the Commission directs that the ILECs provide unbundled local loops to the CLECs within two business days for migrated type A and B loops, including all sub-types, and within five business days for new type A and B loops, including all sub-types, at least 90% of the time. The CLECs can continue to obtain longer service intervals than those above upon request to the ILEC.
The inclusion of day zero in service intervals
26. Currently, the ILEC starts counting the service intervals for unbundled local loop orders the day after receiving a CLEC request. In the Commission's view, the ILECs do not require an extra day to process unbundled local loop requests.
27. The Commission directs that, when the unbundled local loop request is received at or prior to noon, based on the time of day in the serving territory where the ILEC provides service to a CLEC, the ILEC counts that day as the first day of the service interval (day one). Where the unbundled local loop request is received after noon, based on the time of day in the serving territory, the ILEC will start counting the service interval on the following business day.
Service intervals for rural and urban areas
28. The Commission is satisfied that service intervals to provide unbundled local loops should be the same for both urban and rural areas. The Commission notes that the Incumbents did not provide a rationale to justify longer unbundled local loop service intervals in rural areas. The Incumbents also did not demonstrate that they have longer self-provisioning intervals in rural areas compared to urban areas.
29. Since CLECs are not likely to offer local service in rural and remote areas in the foreseeable future, the Commission does not consider that having the same service intervals for urban and rural areas will unduly burden the ILECs. Finally, the Commission considers that having common service intervals for urban and rural areas will foster competition in more densely populated areas close to urban centres.
30. The Commission considers that the additional work required to process faxed requests is minimal. Allowing the ILECs longer service intervals to process faxed requests or requiring that CLECs always use electronic transmission when the costs of the volume of requests do not warrant it would unduly disadvantage the CLECs. The Commission thus directs the ILECs to process faxed requests for unbundled local loops within the same time intervals as for electronic requests.
Implementation of the decision
31. The ILECs are responsible for their own costs for upgrading or creating systems and processes to implement the directives in this decision.
32. The Commission finds that the ILECs have had ample time to modify their processes and procedures in accordance with the letter decision. Their misinterpretation delayed the timely implementation of the Commission's 31 October 2000 directives and impeded the CLECs' entry into the local market.
33. The Commission thus considers that the service intervals for new and migrated unbundled local loops must be put in place by 1 April 2002. The Commission also directs the ILECs to reflect the revised service intervals in their quarterly Quality of Service report, starting with the report for the months of April, May and June 2002.
Summary of the determinations
34. The Commission directs that:
- the ILECs make service available to a CLEC within two business days for migrated type A and B loops, including all sub-types, and within five business days for new type A and B loops, including all sub-types, at least 90% of the time;
- on the day when an ILEC receives a request for an unbundled local loop, the ILEC will count that day as day one, when the request is received at or before noon, based on the time of day in the serving territory where the ILEC provisions service to the CLEC. Where the ILEC receives the request for an unbundled local loop after noon, the ILEC will count the following business day as day one;
- service intervals will be identical for both rural and urban loops;
- faxed requests for migrated and new loops will be completed within the same time intervals as electronic requests;
- ILECs assume sole responsibility for the costs of implementing the new service intervals; and
- the ILECs implement the directives in this decision by 1 April 2002.
This document is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site: www.crtc.gc.ca
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