Telecom Commission Letter addressed to Various Parties
Ottawa, 22 April 2020
M. Jeff Brownlee
Canadian Network Operators Consortium
78 George St., Suite 204
Ottawa, ON K1N 5W1
M. Andy Kaplan-Myrth
VP, Regulatory & Carrier Affairs
TekSavvy Solutions Inc.800 Richmond Street
Chatham ON N7M 5J5
M. Paul Cowling
Senior VP, General Counsel and Regulatory Affairs
40 Elgin Street, Suite 1400
Ottawa, ON K1P 5K6
RE: High speed access process changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
Commission staff is in receipt of the joint letter from TekSavvy Solutions Inc. (TekSavvy) and the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC), dated 9 April 2020, regarding changes that are being implemented by incumbent telephone and cable carriers (collectively the wholesale service providers) for the provisioning of wholesale high speed access (HSA) services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While TekSavvy and CNOC recognize in their letter that the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all Internet service providers, and they appreciate that wholesale HSA service providers are taking measures to address such challenges, they are concerned that in the rush to develop new processes to mitigate risk related to the pandemic, wholesale HSA service providers are unilaterally changing regulated processes or processes that are necessary to deliver regulated services.
For instance, the letter indicates that TekSavvy and CNOC members have noticed a significant increase in failed orders where end-users are not able to get services from competitors, but they may be able to get Internet services from the underlying wholesale service provider, and increases in the time it takes the latter to process their orders. TekSavvy and CNOC are further concerned that the wholesale service providers may not be applying the same process changes to their retail Internet services compared to changes imposed on wholesale customers.
TekSavvy and CNOC ask that the Commission remind HSA service providers that all regulatory obligations continue to apply throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that processes in respect of the provision of wholesale HSA services should be provided equivalently to those provided to the HSA service provider’s retail customers. In addition, they request the filing of various information with the Commission at the time the HSA service providers notify their wholesale customers of pandemic-related process changes being made to wholesale HSA services, including with respect to those changes that have already been made.
We also received a letter from Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw) expressing concerns with the CNOC and TekSavvy letter and public statement to that effect. The company indicated that if any wholesale customer has concerns with a wholesale provider, its services or its practices, it should raise those concerns directly with the provider in the first instance. Shaw indicated that for its part, as an example of maintaining constructive relationships in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is not denying any reasonable request of individual wholesale customers for additional capacity on commercial terms. Shaw asked Commission staff to disregard the highly inappropriate approach adopted by CNOC and TekSavvy and stated that their request should be rejected outright on the basis that the allegations are vague and unsubstantiated.
Commission staff does not believe that it is necessary at this time to require the filing of additional information with the Commission as requested by TekSavvy and CNOC. In the provision of wholesale HSA services, we expect that wholesale service providers will continue to provide the best possible service consistent with existing policies and regulations, and to work collaboratively with their wholesale customers to keep Canadians in every region connected. This entails among other things that, when appropriate precautionary measures are to be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, wholesale customers must have appropriate notice of all process and other changes impacting them and are not subject to undue preference or unjust discrimination that would jeopardize their ability to serve their own customers or compete effectively.
As a result of the pandemic and millions more Canadians suddenly staying home and working from home, the volume of traffic has dramatically increased and other changes are being observed which impact Canadian telecommunications networks. While these are very challenging times for the industry, including wholesale service providers and wholesale customers, which have had to adapt very rapidly, they are also extraordinarily trying times for community institutions, businesses of all sizes, and individual Canadians who now more than ever depend on getting and staying connected.
To meet this challenge, the industry has responded by introducing consumer-friendly measures and by other means, but it must also continue to work together and effectively collaborate in ensuring that the needs of Canadians for high quality communications services are met and no one is left behind in all regions of our country.
Original signed by
c.c.: Distribution List:
Bell Canada: email@example.com;
Cogeco Cable Inc.: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quebecor Media Inc. (Videotron): email@example.com
Rogers Communications Canada Inc.: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Saskatchewan Telecommunications: firstname.lastname@example.org
TELUS Communications Company: email@example.com
Shaw Cablesystems G.P.: Regulatory@sjrb.ca;
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