ARCHIVED - Letter
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Ottawa, 15 November 2012
Our reference: 8740-B54-201210278
Mr. Denis Henry
Regulatory, Government Affairs
and Public Law
Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership
160 Elgin Street, 19th floor
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2C4
Mr. Philippe Gauvin
Regulatory Law and Policy
160 Elgin Street, 19th floor
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2C4
Re: Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership Tariff Notice 414 and Bell Canada Tariff Notice 7361 – Requests for disclosure of Confidential Information
This letter addresses requests for disclosure of information designated confidential by Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership and Bell Canada (collectively, the Bell companies) in the above noted proceeding.
On 24 September 2012, MTS Inc. (MTS) and Allstream Inc. (collectively MTS Allstream). Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc. (CNOC), and Globility Communications Corporation (Globility), collectively the interveners, filed comments on the Bell companies’ 24 August 2012 tariff applications. These companies generally submitted that the amount of costing information placed by the Bell companies on the public record in their tariff applications is not sufficient, and in the absence of detailed information or disclosure, it is not possible for the interveners to assess and comment on the reasonableness of the data provided therein.
MTS Allstream and CNOC submitted further that the same level of disclosure should be applied to the data provided in Tariff Notices 414 and 7361as was applied with respect to the ILECs’ support structure services in the proceeding leading up to the Review of the large incumbent local exchange carriers’ support structure service rates, Telecom Decision CRTC 2010-900. Globility submitted that in Telecom Order 2009-731, Review of the large incumbent local exchange carriers' support structure service rates – Requests from cable carriers, the Commission directed full disclosure of the information filed in relation to the embedded and incremental costs included in the template, modified and utilized by the Bell companies in their current application.
On 4 October 2012, the Bell companies replied to the interveners’ comments. The Bell companies submitted that unlike support structure services, and consistent with Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-17, Revised regulatory framework for wholesale services and definition of essential service, dated 3 March 2008, co-location services are conditional mandated non-essential services and not public goods. The Bell companies submitted that, in their view, the determinations made by the Commission with respect to the disclosure of confidential cost information in the support structure proceeding (for a public good) are not relevant to a conditional mandated non-essential service such as co-location floor space. According to the Bell companies it is more appropriate to provide the same level of disclosure normally associated with other conditional mandated non-essential services, such as Gateway Access Service. Based on the above, the Bell companies submitted that the interveners above request for disclosure should be disregarded.
Requests for disclosure of information that has been designated confidential are addressed in light of sections 38 and 39 of the Telecommunications Act and section 19 of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure (the Rules). In evaluating a request, an assessment is made as to whether there is any specific direct harm likely to result from the disclosure of the information in question and whether such harm outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
In making this evaluation, a number of factors are taken into consideration, including the degree of competition that exists in a particular market or that is expected to occur. All things being equal, the greater the degree of actual or expected competition, the greater the specific harm that could be expected to result from disclosure.
Another factor in assessing the extent of harm is the expected usefulness of the information at issue to parties in furthering their competitive position. In this regard, an important consideration is the degree to which the information at issue is disaggregated. Generally speaking, the more aggregated the information, the less likelihood that harm will flow from its disclosure.
The expectation that specific direct harm might result from disclosure is not, by itself, sufficient to justify maintaining a claim of confidentiality. In certain circumstances, substantial harm from disclosure may still be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure.
It should be noted that the treatment of confidentiality requests should not be taken as an indication of the manner in which such matters would be dealt with in the future in different circumstances.
In addition, with regard to wholesale service rate applications, disclosure requests are addressed in light of the disclosure guidelines for cost information set out in Confidentiality of information used to establish wholesale service rates, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-592, 26 October 2012, relevant past decisions such as Review of the large incumbent local exchange carriers’ support structure service rates-Requests from cable carriers, Telecom Order CRTC 2009-731, 27 November 2009, as well as any approved economic study manuals.
Commission staff notes that paragraph 3-83 of the Bell companies’ approved regulatory economic study manual specifies that for services subject to Phase II costs plus 15 percent mark-up pricing, the competitor demand by year and all entries of the Detailed Summary of Causal Costs Table, including the present worth of the all-carriers demand if applicable, should be placed on the public record. The Bell companies have not provided any rationale for why these general principles should not be applied in this circumstance.
In Telecom Regulatory Policy 2012-592, the Commission determined that the disclosure guidelines should apply regardless of wholesale service category or mark-up. With respect to detailed resource cost information such as the embedded cost data being sought, Commission staff considers that there is a strong public interest in encouraging informed public participation in this proceeding which outweighs at least some of the direct harm that may result. In particular, Commission staff considers that the Bell companies have not demonstrated that release of embedded cost information that is sufficiently aggregated would cause direct harm.
Having regard to all of the considerations set out above, the information designated confidential listed in Attachment 1 is, to the extent set out in that Attachment, to be placed on the public record of this proceeding. In each case where full or partial disclosure is to occur, it is considered that the specific direct harm, if any, likely to be caused by disclosure would not outweigh the public interest in disclosure.
The information to be provided on the public record by the Bell companies as set out in the Attachment is to be filed with the Commission and served on all interested parties, by 23 November 2012. Copies of the documents should also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Commission staff notes that the remaining process dates set out in Commission staff’s letter dated 15 November 2012 continue to apply.
Original signed by
Director, Competitor Services & Costing
Pamela Cormier, CRTC email@example.com
Trichur Krishnan, CRTC firstname.lastname@example.org
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