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Our files: 8638-C12-200817505

Ottawa, 26 October 2012

By Email

Mr. Jonathan Daniels
Vice-President ‒ Regulatory Law
Bell Canada
160 Elgin Street, Floor 19
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2C4

Mr. Denis E. Henry
Regulatory, Government Affairs and Public Law
Bell Aliant Regional Communications
160 Elgin Street, 19th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2C4

Dear Sirs:

RE: Follow-up to Bell Canada’s and Bell Aliant’s Deferral Account-Funded Broadband Programs

On 30 March 2012, the Commission received a report from Bell Canada related to the deferral account-funded broadband expansion programs of Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership and Bell Canada (the Bell companies).1 This report was subsequently updated on 4 May 2012 and 31 July 2012. In its 31 July 2012 report, Bell Canada provided an updated rollout plan for the public record.

The Commission notes that in the proceeding that led to Telecom Decision 2010-637, the Bell companies forecasted the rollout of broadband service using wireless technology to a total of 112 communities by 31 August 2014.  At that time the Bell companies planned to roll out service to 15 communities in 2011, 34 communities in 2012, 37 communities in 2013, and 26 communities in 2014.

However, the 31 July 2012 report indicates that the Bell companies have turned up broadband service in 3 communities using digital subscriber line (DSL) technology and plan to turn up broadband service in 9 communities over the course of 2012 using wireless technology.  This will result in broadband services being available in a total of 12 Commission-approved communities by the end of 2012, rather than in 49 communities as the Bell companies had originally forecasted.

The Commission also notes that the 31 July 2012 report indicates that the Bell companies do not plan to turn up broadband services to any of the other 100 Commission-approved communities during 2013. Further, the planned service-ready date for all of these remaining communities is 31 August 2014, corresponding with the end of the rollout period established in Telecom Decision 2010-637.

In light of the above, the Commission is concerned that there is a risk that the rollout will not be completed by the end of the rollout period. As a result, the Commission considers it necessary to modify the Bell companies’ reporting requirements in order to provide sufficient information for the Commission to effectively monitor their broadband rollout activities.

Accordingly, the Commission revises the reporting requirements as set out below.

The Bell companies are to file quarterly reports that update the information contained in the 31 July 2012 report, and must provide:

  1. A summary of the progress of the rollout;
  2. The status of IS/IT system development to support the retail wireless broadband system, including the expected completion date;
  3. The status of wireline transport backbone construction, including
    1. communities completed with completion date,
    2. communities started with expected completion date, and
    3. communities not started with expected start and completion dates;
  4. The status of wireless access construction by community, including the number of
    1. towers required,
    2. towers existing or completed,
    3. additional towers with expected start and completion dates, and
    4. towers where electronic augmentation has been completed;
  5. The service ready date, achieved or planned, by community.

The quarterly reports are also to include the following:

  1. description of any significant changes to the previous report and reasons for those changes;
  2. Information about any delays in radio frequency testing and electronics implementation;
  3. A list of communities where negotiations have begun for placement of cell towers for wireless broadband service and the status of such negotiations;
  4. A summary of the results of any testing of customers ’ wireless broadband service, including effects on the rollout schedule and lessons learned; and
  5. The steps the Bell companies are taking to avoid excessive delays due to any of the above.

These reports must be filed within 15 days after the end of each quarter, beginning with the quarter ending December 2012 and ending after the rollout of broadband service to the approved communities has been completed.

If the Commission continues to be concerned by the pace of the rollout activities, it will consider initiating a proceeding to determine whether stricter timelines need to be imposed, and what consequences (such as reapplying interest charges) could be made to apply if the rollout is not completed by the established timelines.


Original signed by:

John Traversy
Secretary General

[1] In Follow-up to Telecom Decision 2008-1 – Proposal by Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership and Bell Canada to dispose of the funds remaining in their deferral account, Telecom Decision 2010-637, 31 August 2010 (Telecom Decision 2010-637), the Commission approved the drawdown of $306.3 million from the deferral account funds of Bell Aliant and Bell Canada (the Bell companies) to expand broadband services to 112 communities (the approved communities) in Ontario and Quebec. In that decision, the Commission noted that service expansion should take place over no more than four years and should be completed by the end of August 2014.

The Commission also directed the Bell companies to file on 31 March of each year, beginning in 2011 and ending in 2015, an annual report containing a description of their previous year's broadband rollout, the service introduction date for the approved communities in which broadband service was made available, and their proposed rollout plan for the remaining years of their broadband expansion program.

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