Telecom Commission Letter addressed to the Distribution list

Ottawa, 24 May 2019

Our reference: 1011-NOC2019-0057

BY EMAIL

Distribution list

RE:  Review of mobile wireless services, Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-57 – Procedural request of the Commissioner of Competition: request for Commission determination

Dear Madam, Sir:

In a letter dated 6 May 2019, the Commissioner of Competition (the Commissioner), requested that the Commission rule on his procedural request, which was filed in the context of the proceeding to review mobile wireless services. In particular, the Commissioner requested that the Commission seek additional information from wireless service providers (WSPs). The Commissioner noted that Commission staff had issued certain requests for information (RFIs) but had declined to issue any further RFIs as requested by the Commissioner. Footnote1  

The Commissioner proposed certain amendments to staff’s RFIs and submitted that the additional information he is seeking is necessary to support an economic analysis that would be undertaken by the Competition Bureau and filed on the record of the proceeding. The Commissioner submitted that this more detailed information would assist in defining markets and evaluating the level of competition in those markets over time, and that pricing analyses would be more effective if certain data were collected at the provincial level because it would allow comparison of prices between provinces with different levels of competition.

Several WSPs and groups representing WSPs opposed the Commissioner’s request, arguing, among other things, that the proposed amendments to the RFIs would place a significant and unjustified burden on WSPs, especially on smaller WSPs, and would divert resources and efforts away from WSPs’ participation in the already-established stages of the proceeding. Some parties also made various legal arguments related to the Commissioner’s statutory powers, the limits to his abilities to receive disclosure of confidential information and raised procedural fairness concerns.

Telus Communications Inc. (Telus) took the position that the Bureau was, in fact, applying to review and vary a Commission determination. Accordingly, it argued that it was given an inappropriately short period of time to respond and that, in any event, the Commissioner had failed to meet the test for a review and variance.

The Commission acknowledges that if adopted, the Commissioner’s proposed amendments would result in WSPs having to provide some additional, granular information. Nonetheless, the Commission considers that this information would benefit the record of this proceeding and assist the Commission in its decision-making. The Commissioner’s request is targeted and builds on staff’s existing RFIs. As well, the information being sought is market information that parties participating in a major policy proceeding such as this should have readily available or be able to compile without undue difficulty.

In any event, the Commission is of the view that the benefits to having the additional information on the record outweigh any additional burden placed on parties in providing the information.  While the Commission recognizes that smaller WSPs have fewer resources available, they would also have less data to compile.

With respect to Telus’ arguments, the Commissioner is not seeking to review and vary a Commission determination. The Commissioner is simply asking for the Commission, rather than its staff, to render a decision on the procedural request.  TELUS has failed to demonstrate that it was unable to meaningfully respond to this request. Footnote2

In light of the above, the Commission approves the Commissioner’s request. The WSPs identified in the distribution list are directed to file responses to the amended RFIs as set out in Appendix 1 of this letter. Parties that have already filed responses are to file updated submissions providing responses to the amended questions. 

In recognition of the time required to prepare additional responses, the deadline for providing responses to the amended RFIs is extended from 5 June 2019 to 19 June 2019.

In its initial request, The Commissioner requested that it receive disclosure of all confidential information filed in response to RFIs under section 39(4)(b) of the Telecommunications Act. The Commission directs WSPs to take note of the Commissioner’s request for disclosure and to respond to it when designating information as confidential in response to these RFIs. Footnote3 The Commission will determine whether disclosure is appropriate on the basis of those responses.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

Claude Doucet
Secretary General

Distribution List

Bell Mobility Inc. (Bell), bell.regulatory@bell.ca;
Bragg Communications Incorporated (Eastlink), regulatory.matters@corp.eastlink.ca;
Brooke Telecom Co-operative Ltd., geoff@brooketel.ca;
Execulink Telecom Inc., ian.stevens@execulink.com, martha.facey@execulink.com;
Hay Communications Co-operative Limited, a.lawrence@hay.net;
Huron Telecommunications Co-Operative Limited, grubb@hurontel.on.ca;
Mornington Communications Co-operative Limited, knaylor@mornington.ca;
Quadro Communications Co-operative Inc. regulatory@quadro.net
Rogers Communications Canada Inc. (Rogers), rwi_gr@rci.rogers.com;
Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel), document.control@sasktel.com;
Shaw Telecom Inc (Shaw), regulatory@sjrb.ca; Sogetel Mobilité Inc., richard.biron@sogetel.com;
SSi Micro Ltd., regulatory@ssimicro.com;
TBayTel, stephen.scofich@tbaytel.com, David.Wilkie@tbaytel.com, rob.olenick@tbaytel.com;
TELUS Communications Inc. (TELUS), regulatory.affairs@telus.com;
Videotron Ltd. (Videotron), regaffairs@quebecor.com;
Ice Wireless Inc., regulatory@icewireless.ca;
Xplornet Communications Inc., xplornet.legal@corp.xplornet.com;
Wightman Telecom Ltd., regulatory@wightman.ca

Appendix 1 - Request for information

Questions for all wireless carriers identified in the distribution list

  1. Provide the list of your commercial mobile spectrum holdings, broken down by service areas (or tiers) and by frequency band.
  2. Are there any service areas where your company holds a licence for spectrum but that spectrum is not being used?  If so, identify the service area(s), the amount and frequency of spectrum that is being unused, the reason the spectrum is unused, and any future plans to make use of that spectrum.
  3. For each of the years 2014 to 2018, and for each month from 2016 through the present, as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, and for each province/territory, and for each CMA as well as the Census Agglomeration code 586 (Timmins, ON) Footnote4 , provide, for each brand your company operates, (i) the number of retail mobile wireless services subscribers; (ii) the number of retail mobile wireless services subscribers that subscribe to a plan that includes data; and (iii) your retail mobile wireless revenues; (iv) your retail mobile wireless revenues from retail mobile wireless subscribers that subscribe to a plan that includes data; and (v) the average monthly mobile wireless data usage and plan limit per retail mobile wireless subscriber that subscribes to a plan that includes data. Include separate totals for prepaid and postpaid services for (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) above. Include all assumptions used.
  4. Provide a list of the promotions with respect to retail mobile wireless services that your company offered in 2018. This list should provide the following details for each promotion:
    1. a description of the promotion;
    2. the brand under which the promotion was offered;
    3. the time the promotion was available; and
    4. the number of customers who subscribed to the promotion.
    5. in what geographic area the promotion was offered
  5. Using the format in the table below, provide all the changes made to the price of your retail mobile service offerings in 2016, 2017, 2018 and in 2019 (up to this date). Footnote5 Indicate all assumptions used in relation to the data provided in your response. Use a separate table for each brand your company operates. The tables should be provided in Excel spreadsheet format.
Wireless service plan Province or Census Metropolitan Area Footnote6 if change made more narrowly than Province Description of Plan Features Footnote7 Start Date of the Plan Stand-alone Retail Price Footnote8 Stand-alone Retail Price After Change Date of Price Change(s) Footnote9 Subscribers to plan Subscribers to plan affected by price change

Questions for Bell, TELUS, Rogers, Eastlink, Videotron, Shaw, and SaskTel

  1. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, provide your company’s total wireless operating revenues and total wireless operating expenses, broken down by major category (e.g. voice, data, wholesale services, handsets, and other operating revenues; labour, marketing, billing and administration, spectrum, network, and other operating expenses). Include all assumptions used.
  2. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, and for each province/territory, provide your company’s total wholesale mobile wireless services revenues (including all assumptions used), broken down as follows:
    1. roaming service provided to Canadian wireless carriers, broken down by carrier;
    2. tower and site sharing arrangements with Canadian wireless carriers, broken down by carrier;
    3. arrangements to provide service to MVNOs, broken down by MVNO; and
    4. any other wholesale mobile wireless service(s) provided to other companies, broken down by company. Specify the service(s) provided.
  3. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, and for each province/territory, provide your company’s total wholesale mobile wireless services expenses (including all assumptions used), broken down as follows:
    1. roaming service for your customers using other Canadian wireless carriers’ networks, broken down by carrier;
    2. tower and site sharing agreements with other Canadian wireless carriers, broken down by carrier.
    3. tower and site arrangements with entities that are not Canadian wireless carriers; and
    4. any other wholesale service(s) provided by Canadian wireless carriers, broken down by carrier. Specify the service(s) provided.
  4. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, provide the following, broken down by province/territory:
    1. The number of towers and sites owned by your company in operation;
    2. The number of towers and sites owned by your company in operation that are not shared with any other wireless carrier;
    3. The number of towers and sites used by your company through sharing arrangements with other wireless carriers. Provide separate totals for each wireless carrier.
    4. The number of towers and sites used by your company and owned by an entity that is not a wireless carriers.
  5. With respect to investment in your company’s mobile wireless network, provide the following:
    1. For each of the years 2014 to 2018, a breakdown of the total capital expenditures attributed to your mobile wireless network by major categories, including for example spectrum, cell sites, backhaul, and switching. Provide a breakdown by province/territory.
    2. For each of the next five years (i.e. 2019 to 2023), a breakdown of the total capital expenditures forecast for your mobile wireless network by major categories, including for example spectrum, cell sites, backhaul, and switching. Provide a breakdown by province/territory and by type of network (e.g. 4G, 5G).
  6. Does your company share all or part of a mobile wireless network with another wireless carrier? If so, describe the arrangement(s) and provide a copy of the network sharing agreement(s).
  7. Provide a list of potential MVNOs that have approached you or that are currently negotiating with your company, since August 2018, to access your company’s wireless network(s), products and/or services. This list should include the following, as applicable:
    1. The name of the company that your company is or has been in discussions/negotiations with regarding potential access to your wireless network(s);
    2. The type of arrangement and/or network access discussed with the other company;
    3. Date on which discussions/negotiations started and/or ended; and
    4. The reason(s) these discussions/negotiations ended.
  8. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, provide (i) average revenue per user (ARPU) for retail mobile wireless services covering all brands your company operates; and (ii) separate ARPU for retail mobile wireless services for each brand your company operates. Include separate totals for prepaid and postpaid services for (i) and (ii) above. Include all assumptions used.
  9. Provide, for each of the years 2014 to 2018, and for each month from 2016 through present, and for each CMA as well as the Census Agglomeration code 586 (Timmins, ON), Footnote10 (i) your total earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margins for your retail mobile wireless services (i.e. covering all brands your company operates); and (ii) separate EBITDA amounts for each brand your company operates. Include all assumptions used.
  10. Provide, for each of the years 2014 to 2018 and for each province/territory and for each brand your company operates (if this information is not available, provide your best estimate, including all assumptions used),
    1. the number of your retail mobile wireless service subscribers that wanted to unsubscribe to your mobile wireless services, broken down by
      1. the number of subscribers that your company successfully retained;
      2. the number of subscribers your company lost;
    2. the number of retail mobile wireless service subscribers your company gained, including the number of subscribers gained from other wireless carriers (provide separate totals for each wireless carrier);
    3. your company’s customer retention and acquisition expenditures, including a description of the type of costs included in the totals;
    4. the number of your retail mobile wireless service subscribers that received a discount from published plan rates; and
    5. the average percentage discount from published rates given to retain retail mobile wireless service subscribers that expressed an interest in switching providers.
  11. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 and for each brand your company operates, provide (i) your total data overage revenues from retail mobile wireless subscribers; (ii) the number of your retail mobile wireless subscribers that paid data overage charges at some point during the year (and what percentage of your total subscribers this represents); and (iii) what your company charges per GB of data for overages. Include separate totals for each province/territory for (i), (ii), and (iii) above. Include all assumptions used. 
  12. For each of the years 2014 to 2018 as well as forecasts for each of the years 2019 and 2020, and for each province/territory  provide the following (including all assumptions used):
    1. the average monthly mobile wireless data usage per retail mobile wireless subscriber that subscribes to a plan that includes data;
    2. the median amount of monthly mobile wireless data usage per retail subscriber that subscribes to a plan that includes data; and
    3. the average proportion (%) of your retail mobile wireless subscribers’ data plan that is consumed, broken down by the following data plan capacities – if the information is not available, provide your best estimates:
      1. less than 1 GB;
      2. 1 GB or more and less than 2 GB;
      3. 2 GB or more and less than 3 GB;
      4. 3 GB or more and less than 4 GB;
      5. 4 GB or more and less than 5 GB;
      6. 5 GB or more and less than 10 GB; and 6
      7. 10 GB or more.
  13. For each of the years 2014 to 2018, provide a breakdown of the percentage of your retail mobile wireless sales that were made through each of the following distribution channels (provide a percentage in terms of both revenues and number of sales):
    1. your company’s web site(s);
    2. customers’ contacts with your call centre(s);
    3. your company’s retail stores;
    4. points of sales in third party retailer stores; and
    5. any other distribution channels, including a description of these channels.

Questions for Bell, TELUS, and Rogers

  1. Provide a copy of all agreements between your company and MVNOs (including resellers) currently using your network to provide retail mobile wireless services to their end-users.
  2. Provide a copy of all your company’s internal documents Footnote11 created or updated in 2018 and 2019 (up to this date) that were provided to or that otherwise served to inform communications with your senior executives regarding any assessment or analysis of the impacts, costs and/or benefits of providing wholesale access services to MVNOs on your company, on your mobile wireless competitors and/or on the mobile wireless market in general.
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