Telecom Procedural Letter Addressed to John Lawford (Counsel for PIAC and NPF)

Ottawa, 10 May 2018

Our reference: 8620-P8-201802215

BY EMAIL

John Lawford
Counsel for PIAC and NPF
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
jlawford@piac.ca

Re: Procedural request – Public Interest Advocacy Centre-National Pensioners Federation (PIAC-NPF)’s Part 1 application on “occasional-use” wireless services

This letter sets out the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s determinations on the procedural request made in PIAC-NPF’s Part 1 application, filed on 13 April 2018.

PIAC-NPF requested that its application seeking regulatory relief with respect to lower-use, prepaid wireless service plans (which it refers to as “occasional-use” services) be combined with the proceeding initiated by Telecom Notice of Consultation 2018-98 (the Notice).Footnote1 On 18 April 2018, TELUS Communications Inc. (TELUS) filed a response regarding the procedural request. Bell Canada (Bell) filed a response regarding the procedural request on 30 April 2018. PIAC-NPF replied to these responses on 19 April and 2 May 2018, respectively.

In their request, PIAC-NPF argued that their application raises common issues with those of the Notice. In their view, in Telecom Decision 2018-97 (the Decision),Footnote2 the Commission did not find that low-cost data-only plans were the only gap in retail wireless markets, or that mandating low-cost data-only plans would be sufficient to address these market gaps. PIAC-NPF submitted that their application simply applies the Decision’s framework to a different scenario. In their view, combining the proceedings could prevent re-litigation of shared issues, resulting in a more efficient process and ensuring any shared issues are resolved consistently.

In response, TELUS argued that the application is in effect a request to review and vary the Decision. TELUS noted that, to the extent the Commission entertains PIAC-NPF’s application, combining it with the Notice would make the deadlines both procedurally unfair and practically infeasible.

Bell argued that combining the proceedings would unnecessarily delay the Commission’s determinations as PIAC-NPF’s application is not related to the specific data-only plans at issue in the Notice proceeding.

The Decision and the Notice establish that the Commission’s objective is “ensuring that lower-cost data-only plans are widely available to Canadians” and that “such plans should be available on both a prepaid and postpaid basis in order to support a broader potential consumer market.”

However, as noted by PIAC-NPF, a number of preliminary issues which are common to the Notice and the application, such as questions of jurisdiction and market conditions related to affordable, lower-usage wireless services more broadly, are likely to be addressed by parties, including PIAC-NPF, on the record of the Notice in its current form. Accordingly, the Commission considers that it would be appropriate that a decision be rendered in the Notice proceeding before turning to the issues in PIAC-NPF’s application.

Further, combining the proceedings would significantly expand the scope of the Notice. In particular, this would include at least the consideration of whether specific regulatory action is required to make an additional type of plan widely available to Canadians and, if so, how. Accordingly, combining the application with the Notice would not serve the Commission’s stated objective

As such, the Commission determines that:

Yours sincerely,

Claude Doucet
Secretary General

cc:     Distribution list
Bell Mobility Inc., bell.regulatory@bell.ca
PIAC-NPF, jlawford@piac.ca
Rogers Communications Partnership, rwi_gr@rci.rogers.com
TELUS Mobility, Regulatory.affairs@TELUS.com

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