Telecom - Procedural Letter addressed to the Distribution List
Ottawa, 1 December 2021
RE: Introduction of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Services – Procedural request
On 11 November 2021, the Commission received a procedural request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc. (Rogers) in relation to the incumbent local exchange carriers’ (ILECs’) tariff applications introducing Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Service. Specifically, among other things, Rogers requested that
- the deadline for filing comments for all ILEC and small ILEC NG9-1-1 tariff applications be extended to 1 February 2022; and
- the Commission should mandate the three NG9-1-1 Network Providers [Bell Canada, Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) and TELUS Communications Inc. (TELUS)] to disclose their entire cost studies, providing detailed financial information on their costing models.
In response to Rogers’ request, the Commission received comments from Bell Canada, Distributel Communications Limited and Primus Management ULC (Distributel), the Independent Telecommunications Providers Association (ITPA), Québecor Média, on behalf of Vidéotron (Vidéotron), SaskTel, Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw) on behalf of itself and its wholly owned subsidiary, Freedom Mobile Inc. (Shaw), and TELUS.
Position of parties
Rogers submitted that the proposed rates are much higher than anticipated and that these costs will be passed through to telecom subscribers and will have a serious impact on Canadians. Rogers added that a very thorough analysis and investigation of all NG9-1-1 cost studies will be required to ensure the correct rates are set. Therefore, telecommunications service providers (TSPs) need extra time to carefully review and provide meaningful comments on these very detailed applications. Rogers further submitted that without the disclosure of critical information, interested parties will not be able to provide the necessary analysis of the proposed tariff rates.
Rogers also submitted that, given that NG9-1-1 service is a public good and that there will never be any competition in that specific market, the ILECs’ confidentiality claims are inappropriate. Additionally, Rogers submitted that Bell Canada, SaskTel and TELUS will not compete against
each other within their respective ILEC territory. Further, the small ILECs have outsourced NG9-1-1 services to these three NG9-1-1 Network Providers.
Therefore, Rogers maintained that the disclosure of the confidential financial information (except maybe third party-related commercial arrangements) is in the public interest and would allow all interested parties the possibility to carefully assess the ILEC costing models. Rogers submitted that such disclosure will not impact the ILECs’ competitive position and would not cause them specific and direct harm.
In addition, Rogers claimed that it needed time to ensure that the filings are fully aligned with the Commission staff letter dated 13 September 2013, concerning information to be provided in support of wholesale service tariff applications. Footnote1 Phase II costing studies provide strict rules for disclosure of certain costing measures (even for services for which there are competitive alternatives). Rogers’ claimed that the NG9-1-1 costing studies as filed do not adhere to these principles of disclosure.
Lastly, Rogers submitted that the Commission should ensure that the ILEC cost studies are fully aligned between them in terms of level of detail and cost breakdown, as interested parties must compare the various proposals put forward by each of the ILECs in order to evaluate the specific impact of each cost. For example, Rogers indicated that it has not found the major capital items breakdown in TELUS’ cost study. Rogers maintained that allowing interested parties to review the financial numbers contained in the ILEC cost studies will provide an opportunity to provide meaningful comments to the Commission.
Distributel, Vidéotron, and Shaw supported all aspects of Rogers’ request.
Additionally, Shaw submitted that it appears that the ILECs have grouped the costs associated with their wholesale hosted Location Information Server (LIS) and Additional Data Repository (ADR) functionalities with other services in their cost studies. Shaw further submitted that the Commission should direct the ILECs to refile their studies with distinct line items for each of these functionalities in order to examine their actual impact on their proposed NG9-1-1 access rates.
Shaw maintained that, if the cost of the ILECs’ wholesale hosted LIS and ADR functionalities are greater than a small fraction of a cent per network access service (NAS) per month, the Commission should direct them to revise their tariff applications to separate these charges for Originating Network Providers (ONPs) who have self-provisioned their own LIS and/or ADR servers.
While Bell Canada and TELUS were in support of the extension to the deadline proposed by Rogers for filing comments, the companies were opposed to the release of detailed financial information of their costing models and submitted the request should be denied.
Bell Canada responded that it had attempted to provide as much detail and information as possible associated with its proposed NG9-1-1 Service on the public record. This should allow the Commission and interested parties to examine and assess its proposal to the greatest extent possible, while also maintaining the confidentiality of highly disaggregated cost information and highly sensitive NG9-1-1 network details and architecture.
Bell Canada submitted that disaggregated cost information related to its network and operations, as well as disaggregated demand information is competitively sensitive. Bell Canada indicated that there is competition in the NG9-1-1 space, as evidenced by the choice of SaskTel and TELUS to avail themselves of a third party’s services. Moreover, the Commission itself has recognized that disaggregated cost inputs and service-specific demand estimates such as those used in its NG9-1-1 cost study are competitively sensitive. Bell Canada claimed that such information would be invaluable to its competitors in “non-9-1-1” contexts and, if disclosed, could be used to formulate more effective business strategies that could cause specific harm. Bell Canada further submitted that its submission contains confidential information related to the interconnection arrangements the company has with SaskTel and TELUS related to the NG9-1-1 network.
Similarly, TELUS submitted that NG9-1-1 deployment includes many components that share common characteristics with other network components employed by other services, such as power and transport equipment. The release of specifications and costing data for such equipment would result in competitive exposure of other services, which would materially harm TELUS in wholesale and retail markets.
Furthermore, TELUS claimed that should specific cost elements of the TELUS’ NG9-1-1 cost study become public, its ability to effectively negotiate with alternate suppliers would be harmed. Namely, when costs would be a matter of public record, suppliers may hesitate to provide services to TELUS knowing that their prices would become public. This would have the effect of driving up TELUS’ costs for not only the NG9- 1-1 service, but also for other services.
Bell Canada submitted that, given the significant role of the company’s 9-1-1 networks in ensuring ongoing public safety, certain detailed information about the networks would be inappropriate to place in the public domain under any circumstances for security reasons. Such information could be used by others in a way that could negatively impact its 9-1-1 networks. For example, information related to the security, reliability, redundancy and resiliency measures that have been implemented in the NG9-1-1 network or other technical information is confidential and is consistently treated as such. Similarly, Bell Canada indicated that recent and future software development plans in the context of NG9-1-1, as well as the anticipated timeframe associated with this work are confidential.
With respect to the request that the Commission direct the three NG9-1-1 network providers to disclose their entire cost studies, Bell Canada noted this would provide detailed financial information on the costing models. Bell Canada claimed that in addition to confidential and highly disaggregated cost and demand information, its cost study also provides significant details on its NG9-1-1 architecture. This information includes details associated with strategies for high-level design for the inter-Emergency Services Internet Protocol network (ESInet), ESInet interconnections between the Bell Canada ESInet and the Telus ESInet, high-level design for the inter-ESInet interconnections between the Bell Canada ESInet and the SaskTel ESInet, the number of public safety answering point sites in its territory, the reliability, redundancy and resiliency measures that have been implemented, security measures for NG9-1-1 network infrastructure and details of future software development for the NG9-1-1 network. Disclosure would expose critical aspects of the NG9-1-1 network architecture to those who may wish to circumvent the company’s security and redundancy strategies and cause damage to the network.
TELUS noted that section 39(1) of the Telecommunications Act (the Act) provides parties with the ability to designate information filed with the Commission as confidential if it falls under the specific classifications. TELUS submitted that its cost study includes sensitive information that is confidential and that has been consistently treated in a confidential manner by TELUS. The release of such information would result in harm that could be used by other parties for their competitive advantage outside of the scope of this tariff. For example, the release of all-carriers’ demand would reveal the retail demand for TELUS which can be strategically employed by competitors in other services and, as a result, TELUS would suffer material financial loss and see its competitive position in both the retail and wholesale markets be prejudiced. TELUS further submitted that the Commission has stated guidelines about treatment of cost study information and its application conforms to those requirements.
Bell Canada and TELUS noted that Shaw has asked the Commission to direct Bell Canada, SaskTel and TELUS to refile their cost studies with distinct line items for each of the LIS and ADR functionalities to assess their actual impact on the proposed NG9-1-1 rates. Bell Canada and TELUS submitted that this matter has already been addressed by the Commission in Next-generation 9-1-1 network design efficiencies, Telecom Regulatory Policy 2019-66, 7 March 2019 (TRP 2019-66). Footnote2 Bell Canada submitted that Shaw has provided no compelling reason at this time to demonstrate that there is any doubt in the Commission’s TRP 2019-66 findings that LIS and ADR costs have minimal impact on the proposed NG9-1-1 rates.
Bell Canada submitted that the LIS and ADR costs that are included in the cost study are very small and have no impact on the proposed rates.
TELUS submitted that when it procured its NG9-1-1 core from its vendor, the entire NG9-1-1 core service was priced as a single component and the LIS and ADR costs were not specifically identified or described within TELUS’ contract with its vendor. Were the Commission to order disclosure of TELUS’ costs for LIS and ADR, TELUS would be unable to comply on a good faith basis. TELUS indicated that as all but one ONP in Canada has chosen to avail themselves of the LIS and ADR provided by the ILECs, the costs for those functionalities are appropriately being recovered within the ILEC tariffs.
SaskTel indicated that it fully supports the responses put forth by Bell and TELUS in reply to the requests of Rogers and Shaw for disclosure of costing information.
The ITPA did not oppose establishing a single date for interventions and reply comments on the proposed NG9-1-1, but argued any deadlines must be set up to ensure that NG9-1-1 network providers can meet the Commission’s 1 March 2022 deadline. Additionally, the ITPA opposed the release of the confidential information requested by Rogers.
Commission Staff Analysis and Determinations
Request for disclosure
The current request for disclosure was assessed in light of section 39 of the Act. In evaluating a request, an assessment is made as to whether the information falls into a category of information that can be designated confidential pursuant to section 39 of the Act. An assessment is then made as to whether there is any specific direct harm likely to result from the disclosure of the information in question and whether any such harm outweighs the public interest in disclosure. In making this evaluation, a number of factors are taken into consideration, including the degree of competition and the importance of the information for the purpose of obtaining a fuller record. The factors considered are discussed in more detail in Procedures for filing confidential information and requesting its disclosure in Commission proceedings, Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-961, 23 December 2010, as amended by Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-961-1, 26 October 2012 (Bulletin 2010-961) and section 39 of the Act.
In Next-generation 9-1-1 – Modernizing 9-1-1 networks to meet the public safety needs of Canadians, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2017-182, 1 June 2017, as amended by Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2017-182-1, 28 January 2019, the Commission mandated ILECs, including small ILECs, to provide NG9-1-1 networks in their incumbent territories, in order to offer TSPs that operate within their incumbent territories wholesale access to their NG9-1-1 networks wherever provincial, territorial, and/or municipal governments have established public safety answering points (PSAPs).
Further, the Commission determined that an ILEC stewardship model under Commission oversight is most appropriate with respect to the governance and funding of NG9-1-1, such that the ILECs will be responsible for the building, operation, and maintenance of the NG9-1-1 networks. The Commission stated that it would retain full direct oversight through the ILECs’ tariffs, and the tariff rates are to be established based on each NG9-1-1 network provider’s costs, plus an approved markup.
Commission staff considers that the information filed in confidence by Bell Canada, SaskTel and TELUS complies with section 39 of the Act. Specifically, i) it is financial, commercial, and technical information that is confidential and that is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the person who submitted it, ii) it could result in material financial loss or gain to any person, and iii) it could affect contractual or other negotiations of any person.
With respect to the cost studies filed by the companies, Commission staff considers that the information filed and the level of disclosure is compliant with the directives set out in Confidentiality of information used to establish wholesale service rates, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2012-592, 26 October 2012 and the Commission staff letter dated 13 September 2013, which addressed information to be provided in support of wholesale service tariff applications.
The cost studies filed by the companies include both wholesale and retail aspects. Commission staff considers that release of the information filed in confidence in the companies’ cost studies would provide competitors with insight into the companies’ detailed financial information and access to commercially sensitive information, which might allow competitors to develop new and more effective business plans and marketing strategies.
In addition, Commission staff is of the view that the information requested by Rogers includes sensitive and detailed information related to the NG9-1-1 network, which if publicly released could jeopardize the security of the NG9-1-1 network.
However, irrespective of the above, as noted by Rogers, TELUS has not provide a breakdown of major capital items. This deficiency will be addressed shortly through Commission staff requests for information.
In view of the above, Commission staff is of the view that specific direct harm is likely to result from the disclosure of the information on the public record and that the public interest would not be served by such disclosure. Given, the level of information available on the public record, Commission staff is of the view that interveners should have enough information to provide meaningful comments.
With respect to Shaw’s request regarding release of information related to the provision of the LIS/ADR functionalities, while the Commission addressed this issue in TRP 2019-66, Footnote3 Commission staff considers that additional information related to the costs would be beneficial in order to confirm that these costs represent only a low percentage of the costs. Commission staff will be seeking additional information through Commission staff requests for information.
Request for an extension in the comment period
With respect to the request for extending the deadline for comments to 1 February 2022, Commission staff is of the view that, as the required tariffs are to come into effect on 1 March 2022, such an extension could impact the Commission’s ability to make determinations on the tariff applications in a timely manner.
However, Commission staff acknowledges that it may be beneficial to interveners to align the filing date for comments and reply.
Given that additional costing information will not be released, Commission staff considers that interveners should have sufficient time to assess the proposed tariff applications and file comments on or before 20 December 2021. As a result, comments on the tariff applications for the introduction of NG9-1-1- services (listed in the attachment below) are to be filed no later than 20 December 2021. Reply comments to the interventions are to be filed by 17 January 2022.
Original signed by Étienne Robelin for
Director, Dispute Resolution and Regulatory Implementation
c.c.: Stais Armstrong, CRTC, 819-665-8532, Stacey.Armstrong@crtc.gc.ca
Christine Brock, CRTC, 873-353-5852, email@example.com
- Distribution list
- Reference numbers
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Magni.Magnason@calgary.ca
|Company||Tariff Notice Number||Our Reference Number|
|Bell Canada||968 et 968/A||8740-B20-202107094|
|Saskatchewan Telecommunications||373 et 373/A||8740-S22-202107515|
|TELUS Communications Inc.||565||8740-T66-202107490|
|9315-1884 Québec inc.||14||8740-Q29-202107466|
|Amtelecom Limited Partnership||84||8740-A2-202107573|
|Brooke Telecom Co-operative Ltd.||22||8740-B6-202107325|
|Bruce Telecom Ontario Inc.||161||8740-B7-202107341|
|Cochrane Telecom Services||79||8740-C1-202107226|
|CoopTel, coop de télécommunication||88
|Execulink Telecom Inc.||79||8740-E25-202107333|
|Gosfield North Communication Co-operative Limited||22||8740-G2-202107680|
|Lansdowne Rural Telephone Company||18||8740-L3-202107482|
|Nexicom Telecommunications, a Division of Nexicom Inc.||52||8740-N24-202107367|
|Nexicom Telephones, a Division of Nexicom Inc||44||8740-N23-202107359|
|North Frontenac Telephone Corporation Ltd.||35||8740-N7-202107549|
|North Renfrew Telephone Company Limited Trade||44||8740-N10-202107375|
|People's Tel Limited Partnership||93||8740-P1-202107565|
|Quadro Communication Co-operative Inc.||37||8740-Q2-202107581|
|The Westport Telephone Company, Limited||46||8740-W3-202107383|
|Tuckersmith Communications Co-operative Limited||34||8740-T7-202107557|
|Wightman Telecom Ltd.||33||8740-W4-202107474|
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