Telecom Commission Letter Addressed to Sandeep Panesar (Téliphone Navigata-Westel Communications Inc.) and Stephen Schmidt (TELUS Communications Company)
Ottawa, 22 September 2016
Our references: 8622-T151-201609562
Mr. Sandeep Panesar
Chief Executive Officer
Téliphone Navigata-Westel Communications Inc.
338 Saint-Antoine Est, #101,
Montréal, QC H2Y 1A3
Mr. Stephen Schmidt
Vice-President - Telecom Policy & Chief Regulatory Legal Counsel
Telecom Policy and Regulatory Affairs
TELUS Communications Company
215 Slater Street, 8th floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 0A6
Re: Part 1 Application by Téliphone Navigata-Westel Communications Seeking Relief with respect to the Timing of Disconnection of services provided to it by TELUS Communications Company - Commission Decision
On 16 June 2016, TELUS Communications Company (TCC) filed, in confidence, a letter with the Commission advising that it had given notice to terminate services provided to Téliphone Navigata-Westel Communications (TNW) effective 17 August 2016 as a result of payment issues with TNW. TCC stated that the parties were before the British Columbia Supreme Court with regard to their commercial dispute.
Coincident with the intervention of Commission staff, the parties continued to negotiate and on 31 August 2016, they agreed that TCC would not initiate service disconnection prior to 11 October 2016.
Also on 31 August 2016, TNW filed with the Commission a confidential Part 1 application requesting that the Commission provide TNW with 180 days to notify its clients of an upcoming disconnection of service by TCC, as well as an additional 90 days following this notification before disconnection is to commence. An abridged version of the application was filed on 8 September 2016.
On 12 September 2016, TCC filed its Answer with no claim for confidentiality, except for two attachments. On 16 September 2016, TNW filed its reply in confidence, with an abridged version for the public record. Because TCC’s answer for which it did not claim confidentiality contained information in respect of which TNW and TCC had claimed confidentiality, the Commission did not place TCC’s answer on the public record.
Having considered all representations made by the parties in this proceeding, the Commission considers that the only substantive issue for resolution is the length of time before disconnection takes place. TNW is not arguing that TCC is without right to disconnect, but rather when disconnection is to occur.
The Commission is of the view that the 270-day period requested by TNW is unduly long and appears to be motivated by a desire to attempt to salvage the economic interest of the company, rather than address the plight of TNW’s customers who would be affected by the disconnection. Further, TNW has been aware of TCC’s intention to disconnect services provided to TNW for several months and yet, has taken no action to alert its affected customers to date. Such affected customers include end-users (residential, enterprises and public-sector), as well as resellers. Also, were the Commission to agree to the relief sought by TNW, TCC would be in the position of being obliged to provide services to TNW for an extended period of time without any guarantee of full payment for such services.
While TNW’s requested relief of 270 days is unreasonably long, the Commission is persuaded by TNW’s submissions that TCC’s intended disconnection date of 11 October is unduly short to allow TNW’s affected customers to explore arrangements with a new service provider.
In the circumstances of this case, the Commission considers that 60 days is a reasonable period to allow TNW’s affected customers to explore alternative arrangements. Accordingly, TCC is directed not to commence disconnection of services provided to TNW prior to Monday, 21 November 2016.
Based on the record of this proceeding, not all of TNW’s customers would be directly affected by a disconnection of services by TCC. With respect to those TNW customers who would be directly affected by TCC’s disconnection, TNW is ordered to notify, forthwith, all such customers that TNW would be unable to use the services of TCC as the underlying carrier as of Monday 21 November 2016, and that such disconnection would adversely impact the services currently provided to them by TNW. Also, in order to assist affected end-customers in finding an alternate service provider, TNW’s notice to its affected end-customers must include a link to the CRTC’s website page entitled “Service Providers Near Me”.
TNW is further ordered to provide the Commission, by no later than 30 September 2016, with confirmation that it has provided such notice, and samples of the notices (including the website link noted above as appropriate) it will have provided to its affected customers.
TNW is also ordered to file with the Commission, in confidence, a list of its customers who will be directly affected by TCC’s disconnection of services, including names, telephone numbers and email addresses, no later than 30 September 2016.
Finally, TNW is to work diligently to ensure a smooth transition for its affected customers to their new service providers.
Failure to comply with any and all parts of this Commission decision may lead to the Commission taking enforcement action, which could include the imposition of administrative monetary penalties, as per Compliance and Enforcement and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2015-111.
In its submissions, TNW argued that the release of the information designated so far as confidential, including the notice of the impending disconnection, would provide sensitive information to competitors and cause undue alarm to customers, thereby resulting in specific direct and irreparable harm to TNW. By filing its answer without a claim for confidentiality, except for two attachments, TCC has effectively waived its claim for confidentiality with respect to the information relevant to the specific relief sought by TNW before the Commission.
The Commission has carefully considered the representations made by TNW with respect to claims for confidentiality that are directly related to the issue in this proceeding. In the particular circumstances of this case, the Commission is persuaded that the specific direct harm to TNW is outweighed by the public interest in disclosure, particularly with respect to TNW’s customers.
Accordingly, pursuant to s. 39(4) of the Telecommunications Act, the Commission rules that the information disclosed in this Commission decision should be made public. Further, TCC is ordered to file, by 29 September 2016, an abridged version of its Answer for the public record, consistent with the confidentiality ruling made by the Commission in this decision.
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