Telecom Procedural Letter addressed to Ms. Natalie MacDonald (Eastlink)

Ottawa, 27 June 2016

Our reference:  8661-C12-201504829 - 8661-C182-201503946

BY EMAIL

Ms. Natalie MacDonald
Vice President, Regulatory Matters
Eastlink
6080 Young Street 8th Floor
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 5M3
regulatory.matters@corp.eastlink.ca

RE:  Telecom Decision CRTC 2016-117, Review of costing inputs and the application process for wholesale high-speed access services (Decision 2016-117) – Request for Extension

Dear Ms. MacDonald,

The Commission is in receipt of a letter dated 20 June 2016, submitted by Bragg Communications Inc., carrying on business as Eastlink (Eastlink), requesting an extension to the current due date of 30 June 2016 (representing 90 days from the date of the decision) for the filing of new tariff applications and supporting cost studies with respect to Review of costing inputs and the application process for wholesale high-speed access services, Telecom Decision CRTC 2016-117, dated 31 March 2016 (Telecom Decision 2016-117).

In Telecom Decision 2016-117 and the accompanying Commission letter dated 31 March 2016, the Commission directed all wholesale high-speed assess (HSA) service providers to file tariff and costing information within a 45 day period ending on 16 May 2016. Shortly thereafter, on 8 April 2016, Bell Canada filed a request for an extension on the grounds that it required more time to complete the costing work prescribed by Telecom Decision 2016-117. The Commission approved a 45-day extension to 30 June 2016.

In the present request, Eastlink submitted that it is not able to prepare the new tariff applications within the allotted timeframe. Therefore, it requested an extension of the filing date to 31 October 2016. In support of its request, Eastlink submitted that unlike the other wholesale HSA service providers, it has never been subject to a requirement to file cost studies before and that it is therefore starting the process from the beginning.

Eastlink indicated that immediately following the release of Telecom Decision 2016-117, it engaged internal resources to determine how to proceed in preparing the necessary cost studies. The extension request is based on the resources necessary to complete the studies, and the steep learning curve faced given its lack of experience in completing these studies and the availability of an external expert retained to assist in the development of the tariff application.

The Commission received comments from Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc. (CNOC), Bell Canada, MTS Inc., Telus Communications Company (collectively, the Companies), TekSavvy Solutions Inc. (TekSavvy), Vaxination Informatique (Vaxination) and Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel).

CNOC objected to Eastlink’s extension request. CNOC submitted that only now, a mere 10 days before the 30 June 2016 deadline, Eastlink claims that is unable to satisfy its obligations and therefore requests an extension of 120 days. It submitted that this extremely lengthy extension at such a late stage in the process cannot be justified. CNOC disagreed that Eastlink could be entitled to such preferential treatment simply because it has only recently been subject to wholesale obligations. In CNOC’s view, there is no reason why a company of Eastlink’s scale and sophistication could not complete tariff applications and costing work within the extended 90 day timeframe that the Commission gave all wholesale HSA service providers, especially considering that Eastlink did not raise any concerns at the time of that initial extension.

CNOC further submitted that if the Commission is of the view that an extension for Eastlink should be granted, that extended deadline should apply exclusively to Eastlink and should be set no later than 31 July 2016.

The Companies disagreed with CNOC’s suggestion that an extension, if granted, apply only to Eastlink. Rather, they requested that any filing date extension be applicable to all parties that are required to file cost studies as part of this proceeding. Further, the Companies submitted that the record will need to be closed for all parties before the Commission issues its final decision, and therefore, they did not believe that it would make sense, procedurally, to have parties submit their proposed cost studies at different times.

Vaxination submitted that granting such a long delay as requested by Eastlink would undermine the Commission's ability to move quickly, since any incumbent wholesale HSA provider could simply stall tariff processes by many months, in an industry that moves very quickly. Vaxination also opposed the Companies’ proposal to grant the extension to all wholesale HSA service providers, as an extension would have a significant impact on a number of competitors whose ability to provide affordable and plentiful Internet service is being eroded by Capacity Based Billing rates that are out of sync with industry.

For its part, TekSavvy disagreed with the Companies’ characterization that cost-based rates cannot be examined, or ultimately ruled upon, unless the record is closed in respect of all parties. TekSavvy submitted that it is sympathetic to the position in which these unique circumstances put Eastlink and its staff.  TekSavvy indicated that it does not oppose the more reasonable extension for Eastlink’s filings, to July 31, as suggested in CNOC’s intervention – provided that no such extension is granted to other parties (i.e. the incumbents) who do have experience with the preparation and filing of HSA cost studies.

SaskTel informed the Commission that the company is encountering issues in preparing the requested information for 30 June. As such, they may not be able to file on time and would require one to two weeks of additional time.

The Commission understands that the tariff filing process may be a new process for Eastlink.

The Commission notes that it already granted an initial extension of time for the preparation and filing of costs studies. In light of this initial extension, the Commission considers that all other wholesale HSA service providers, including SaskTel, have had ample opportunity to prepare the required material.

However, in the Commission’s view, a filing date of 31 October 2016, as proposed by Eastlink, would result in an unreasonable delay in the process by which cost-based rates can be examined and ultimately ruled upon.

In light of the above, the Commission determines that an extension to August 2, 2016 for Eastlink to file its tariff application and supporting cost study, would be appropriate. This determination strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of Eastlink in the preparation of the requested information, and the additional regulatory uncertainty in respect of rates created by an extension to the filing deadlines. For greater clarity, the extension approved herein is only granted to Eastlink.

Accordingly, the Commission amends the filing date as follows: Eastlink is to file new tariff applications and associated cost studies for banded non-legacy wholesale HSA service speeds by 2 August 2016.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

Danielle May-Cuconato
Secretary General

c.c.:  Lyne Renaud, CRTC, (lyne.renaud@crtc.gc.ca
Doug Thurston, CRTC, (doug.thurston@crtc.gc.ca)
Bell Canada:  bell.regulatory@bell.ca
MTS Inc.: regulatory@mts.ca
Allstream: regulatory@allstream.com
Saskatchewan Telecommunications: document.control@sasktel.sk.ca
TELUS Communications: regulatory.affairs@telus.com
Cogeco Cable Inc.: telecom.regulatory@cogeco.com
Quebecor Media Inc. (Videotron): regaffairs@quebecor.com
Rogers Communications Partnership: barry.choi@rci.rogers.com; david.watt@rci.rogers.com; rwi_gr@rci.rogers.com
Shaw Cablesystems G.P.: Regulatory@sjrb.ca
CNOC Regulatory: regulatory@cnoc.ca
TekSavvy Solutions Inc.: regulatory@teksavvy.com
Vaxination Informatique: jfmezei@vaxination.ca
VMedia Inc.: george.burger@vmedia.ca
Steve Sorochan: steve.sorochan@gov.yk.ca
Darren Parberry: metisbus@yahoo.ca
Marcus Schultze: marcus.p.schultze@gmail.com

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