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Telecom Decision CRTC 2002-66

Ottawa, 24 October 2002

Coalition for Better Co-location - Part VII application for relief regarding the location of remote switching facilities

Reference: 8622-G7-01/01

The Coalition for Better Co-location filed an application requesting that the Commission direct MTS Communications Inc. (MTS), Aliant Telecom Inc. (Aliant Telecom) and Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) to file tariffs to provide network planning information regarding the location of remote switching facilities in their networks. The Commission directs Aliant Telecom, MTS and SaskTel to file, within 30 days of this Decision, a tariff for interim approval modelled after the terms, conditions and rate structure of Bell Canada's tariff relating to the provision of network planning information.


The Commission received an application by GT Group Telecom Services Corp., on behalf of the Coalition for Better Co-location (the Coalition), dated 24 July 2001, pursuant to Part VII of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure. The Coalition consisted of AT&T Canada Inc., Call-Net Enterprises Inc., GT Group Telecom Services Corp., and Futureway Communications Inc.


In its application, the Coalition requested that the Commission issue orders directing each of Bell Canada, Aliant Telecom Inc. (Aliant Telecom), MTS Communications Inc. (MTS), and Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) to provide the members of the Coalition with network planning information regarding the location of remote switching facilities in their networks. The Coalition also requested that Bell Canada, Aliant Telecom, MTS and SaskTel file tariffs for this service at rates that are no greater than those charged by TELUS Communications Inc. (TCI) for similar services.


On 23 August 2001, Bell Canada filed a tariff to provide electronic files containing the remote switching information requested by the Coalition.1 On 4 September 2001, the Coalition informed the Commission that it was amending its application in order to withdraw its request as it related to Bell Canada, and that it would proceed with its application with respect to Aliant Telecom, MTS and SaskTel (collectively, the companies) as they had not filed tariffs.


In letters dated 10, 11 and 21 September 2001, the companies indicated that although they could not provide the network information in electronic format, they would provide it manually, and would recover their costs based on the time and materials required. On 10 October 2001, the Coalition informed the Commission that, in view of the companies' response, it would postpone its Part VII application until it could determine if the Coalition members would receive the necessary information from the companies.


On 14 January 2002, the Coalition informed the Commission that it was further amending its application to withdraw its request that MTS be ordered to provide the network planning information. The Coalition indicated that it would proceed with the remainder of its application, requesting that the Commission issue:

· an order directing Aliant Telecom and SaskTel to immediately provide the members of the Coalition the network planning information requested in its original application; and

· an interim order directing Aliant Telecom, SaskTel and MTS to immediately file tariffs for the provision of the network planning information at rates no greater than those charged by TCI for similar services.

The application


In its 24 July 2001 application, the Coalition stated that the requested network planning information was essential to competitors for business and network planning purposes. The Coalition also submitted that such information was a fundamental prerequisite to assess the suitability and the availability of particular loops for the proper provisioning of both voice and digital subscriber line-based services (DSL services). In this regard, the Coalition stated that the presence of remotes or digital loop technologies would hamper the provision of DSL services because they interrupt the metallic continuity of copper loops. The Coalition added that the long unconditioned copper loops that were commonly provided to competitors for customers in areas served by remote facilities are unusable for voice services. The Coalition noted that, in such circumstances, competitors required loops with higher specifications, which were not always available.


In the Coalition's view, without the network planning information, competitors faced the following network and service provisioning problems:

· it may not be possible to provide service to customers to whom commitments have been made;

· competitors cannot plan and deploy their sales and marketing resources in order to identify customers that can actually receive their services;

· competitors cannot respond to customer enquiries regarding the availability of services; and

· competitors are forced to cancel loop orders because they learn, only after an order was placed and the loop was tested, that the customer's loop is connected to a remote facility.


The Coalition raised concerns that, through the exclusive use of this information, the companies' conferred an undue and unreasonable preference upon both themselves and their unregulated affiliates. In the Coalition's view, the companies and their unregulated affiliates have used information regarding the location of remote switching offices in their own networks to plan the wide-scale roll-out of competitive DSL services, one of the fastest growing telecommunications access services in Canada.


The Coalition submitted that, if the companies and their unregulated affiliates continue to make exclusive use of the network planning information at issue in this application, the DSL market will be in grave danger of becoming wholly monopolized in the territories served by these companies.

The companies' positions



MTS noted that the Coalition had confirmed that MTS has provided the network planning information requested by the Coalition's members.


With respect to issuing tariffs, MTS argued that, without a standard product to deliver network planning information to competitive local exchange carriers, there was no basis on which to develop a tariff. MTS indicated that it was in the process of converting its network information to a standard electronic format, but that it did not expect to complete this conversion until some time in 2003.

Aliant Telecom


In its response, Aliant Telecom stated that none of the Coalition members had approached it for the information in question since the filing of its responses of 23 August 2001 and 11 September 2001.


Aliant Telecom indicated that the detailed network planning information existed in distinct databases throughout its territory. Aliant Telecom submitted that it would require substantial effort and time, and would incur significant costs to gather the information for Newfoundland, Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and to develop the necessary procedures to provide the results in a consistent format for each of the provinces.


Aliant Telecom stated that, although it did not currently have maps of remote serving areas and their associated boundaries, the Remote Central Office or the Remote Switching Unit locations in a Geocoded format, it was willing to provide the Coalition members maps and related information in the current format, which the company uses for its own purposes.


Aliant Telecom indicated that it was currently assessing the alternatives and requirements to implement an electronic mapping system that could be used in all four operating provinces. Aliant Telecom submitted that when it had completed the assessment, which was expected by the fourth quarter of this year, it would be in a position to evaluate the associated costs, as well as the time and funding requirements necessary to complete the project.



SaskTel provided details on the network planning information that was available and the format in which it could be provided. SaskTel stated that the information would only be available, once it was assured of the manner in which the information was to be used and the safeguards in place through the signing of non-disclosure agreements.


SaskTel pointed out that since the filing of its response to the application, only Call-Net Enterprises Inc. had indicated that it would begin preliminary negotiations with it to obtain wire-centre boundary maps and any other information necessary for network planning.

The Coalition's reply


The Coalition stated that, although it had been flexible in its negotiations with the companies with respect to the format of the information, it was greatly concerned by the companies' continued insistence that competitors reimburse them for expenses based on the time and materials required to respond to a request. In the Coalition's view, this method of billing provided no incentive for the companies to collect and produce the information in a cost-effective manner.


In the Coalition's view, the current situation represented a win-win situation for the companies. The Coalition submitted that, without the protection of tariff rules, its members were open to significant delay in receiving the requested information and had no means of determining in advance what the companies would charge for the information. The Coalition further noted that any delay in providing this information to its members effectively delays the date when competition might begin in a specific market. The Coalition also submitted that requests for network planning information provided the companies with a clear picture of its members' possible future business plans, and that such information clearly constitutes a competitive advantage for the companies.

Commission analysis and determination


The Commission notes that the matters at issue in this application have been the subject of numerous unsuccessful negotiations at the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) Co-location Working Group (the CLG) since 17 July 2000. The Commission notes that during this time, the companies have been able to use the network planning information for their own internal purposes as well as those of their competitive operations.


In the Commission's view, the existing system of billing based on time and materials discourages requests for network planning information. In this regard, the Commission notes that the current system results in charges determined on a case-by-case basis, varying from one request to another. The competitors are unable to know in advance the time it will take for the information to be delivered and the amount they will be billed.


The Commission notes the Coalition's submission that, without the network planning information, the DSL market will be in grave danger of becoming wholly monopolized by the companies. Given that the network planning information is essential for competitors to effectively provide their services, the Commission considers that competition may be impeded unless competitors can be assured of the costs and conditions under which the information would be obtained through a service-specific tariff.


The Commission is not persuaded by Aliant Telecom, MTS and SaskTel's arguments that there is no value in filing a service-specific tariff until they have developed a final electronic format for the network planning information. In the Commission's view, a service-specific tariff, which strikes a balance between competitors and the companies, can be put in place at this time. Furthermore, the Commission considers that these companies have the ability to design a service-specific tariff based on Bell Canada's network information tariff.


In light of the above, the Commission directs SaskTel, MTS and Aliant Telecom to file, within 30 days of this Decision, a tariff for interim approval modelled after the terms, conditions and rate structure of Bell Canada's tariff for Remote Switching Information. The companies' proposed tariff must specify:

a) the type of network planning information available and the manner in which it is to be provided. In this regard, the company must provide the information in a manner similar to that which is provided to the company's own or its competitive operations. In the event that any information requested in the Coalition's application cannot be provided by the company, the company must identify such information in its tariff application with reasons why it is unavailable, and when it can be made available, and the date that the information is expected to be available;

b) the rates for the provision of the network planning information are to be based on the most cost-effective manner of obtaining and supplying the given information;

c) the Commission further directs that the proposed interim tariff state that the information provided will be made available within 10 days of the requested date no less than 80% of the time.

Secretary General

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Date Modified: 2002-10-23

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