Telecom Commission Letter Addressed to Distribution List

Ottawa, 28 November 2016

Our references: 8640-N1-201609893

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Distribution List

RE: Northwestel – Request to Forbear on the Operation and Maintenance of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link Network – Request for Information

On 10 August 2016, the Commission received a Part 1 application from Northwestel, requesting that the Commission refrain from exercising its powers and performing its duties under sections 25, 27, 29, and 31 of the Act in relation to services provided by Northwestel on behalf of Northern Lights General Partnership (NLGP), who has been contracted by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) to design, build, maintain and operate the GNWT’s Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link (MVFL) network. Specifically, Northwestel seeks forbearance for the operation and maintenances services to support the MVFL network for the GNWT.

Pursuant to paragraph 28(1)(a) of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Commission may require a party to provide information, particulars or documents that it considers necessary to enable the Commission to reach a full and satisfactory understanding of the subject matter of the proceeding.

Northwestel is requested to provide comprehensive answers, including any supporting information, to the attached questions with respect to the above-noted forbearance applications. 

Responses to the attached requests for information are to be filed with the Commission, serving a copy on all those listed in the distribution list, by 8 December 2016.

Any party to these proceedings may file interventions on the responses to the requests for information with the Commission, serving a copy to all those listed in the distribution list, by 19 December 2016. Northwestel may file a final reply, serving a copy to all those listed in the distribution list, by 22 December 2016.

As set out in section 39 of the Act and in Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-961, Procedures for filing confidential information and requesting its disclosure in Commission proceedings, persons may designate certain information as confidential.  A person designating information as confidential must provide a detailed explanation on why the designated information is confidential and why its disclosure would not be in the public interest, including why the specific direct harm that would be likely to result from the disclosure would outweigh the public interest in disclosure. Furthermore, a person designating information as confidential must either file an abridged version of the document omitting only the information designated as confidential or provide reasons why an abridged version cannot be filed.

Where a document is to be filed or served by a specific date, the document must be actually received, not merely sent, by that date.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

Sheehan Carter
A/Director, Competition and Emergency Services Policy
Telecommunications Sector

c.c.      Jean-François Roof, CRTC, 819-639-2537
Kim Wardle, CRTC, 819-997-4945

Distribution List

Northwestel, Dallas C. Yeulett, regulatoryaffairs@nwtel.ca
SSi Micro LTD, Dean Proctor, regulatory@ssimicro.com
Government of the Northwest Territories, Linda Maljan, linda_Maljan@gov.nt.ca

Questions for Northwestel

  1. As noted in Decision 94-19, the first step in assessing competitiveness is generally the definition of the relevant market, which forms the basis for the forbearance exercise.

    In Paragraph 14 of its application, Northwestel defined the relevant market as “the operation of the MVFL” in the Northwest Territories. However, in Paragraph 21 of its response to SSi’s intervention, Northwestel defined the relevant market as ‘the provision of operating and maintaining a fibre network for a third party”.

    1. Please clarify Northwestel’s definition of the relevant market.
    2. Please provide rationale as to why the Commission should not consider the Operation of a Customer-Owned Fibre Facility (as described in its Special Facilities Tariff) as the relevant market.
  2. Throughout its application and its response to SSi’s intervention, Northwestel makes use of the term “NLGP” interchangeably with Northwestel or GNWT. Please clarify and explain 1) the relationship between Northwestel and Northern Lights General Partnershipand file in confidence the service agreement between Northwestel and NLGP; and 3) the relationship between Northern Lights General Partnership and the Government of Northern Territories.
  3. At paragraph 7 of its application, Northwestel outlines the NLGP’s responsibilities for operations and maintenance of the MVFL.
    1. Please confirm that Northwestel performs these responsibilities, on behalf of NLGP
    2. Please confirm that the provision of the services in question is currently subject to Northwestel’s Special Services Tariff CRTC 3010, 772 – Operation of Customer-Owned Fibre Facility Service. If the services differ from those provided under that tariff, explain.
    3. In Paragraph 16 of Northwestel’s reply comments, the company states that, should the Commission deny forbearance, it will be forced to file a “permanent tariff” for all the services outlined in Paragraph 6, in a form similar to the Special Assembly tariff it has already filed for those services (referring to Item 772). Confirm whether a “permanent tariff” is a reference to a tariff approved on a final basis. Explain why Northwestel claims it will need to file another tariff.
  4. At Paragraph 11 of its application, Northwestel states that the rates which are the subject of its forbearance application are the service fees that Northwestel will charge GNWT to operate the MVFL on its behalf.
    1. Please explain whether or not the service fees being referenced are equivalent to the service fees NLGP is charging GNWT to operate and maintain the MVFL network on its behalf, as indicated in its bidding contract.
    2. Please file the relevant operation and maintenance service rates, terms and conditions from the contract between NLGP and GNWT. If there is a second contract, between Northwestel and NLGP, please also file the relevant section (operation and maintenance service rates, terms and conditions) of that contract.
    3. In Paragraph 11 of its application, Northwestel states that the rates it would charge GNWT for the operation and maintenance of the MVFL, are the result of a competitive bidding process and are locked in by contract for 20 years. If the said rates for the operation and maintenance services are locked in a contract for 20 years, please justify why forbearance is necessary, including benefits and potential impacts for competition and GNWT.
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