Thursday 16 September 2010

Bell Appeals CRTC deferral Account Ruling

As expected by most observers and forewarned in my post of 31 Aug 10, on 13 Sep 10 Bell launched an appeal of the CRTC Deferral Account Decision 2010-637 .  The appeal has two main components: – it challenges the CRTC’s right to dictate which technology Bell can use to provide broadband service in the Deferral Account areas and the amount of money the CRTC identified as accrued interest on the Deferral Account funds held by the telcos. 
In addition the appeal addresses the issues raised by the Commission concerning the need to match existing Bell urban broadband services; Bell calls this the  Urban Service Comparability Requirement.
To meet these requirements Bell amended the original application (created a new application?) with significant increases in monthly data limits (Caps) and an usage insurance option of $5.00 per month for an additional 40 GB. This is the same feature available to current DSL subscribers. This means a consumer could get up to a 7 Mbps download with a 65 GB cap for $46.95 plus taxes and fees.
These changes address my major concerns with the original proposal. If the Bell ends up being allowed to implement this solution, I believe it will satisfy the majority of users in the Algoma District Deferral Account areas.
Original HSPA Broadband Service Proposal
Proposed HSPA+ Retail Broadband Services
Service Name
Home Zone Wireless
Home Zone
Wireless Plus
Monthly Rate
Download Speed
Up to 2 Mbps
Up to 2Mbps
Up to 7 Mbps
Upload Speed
Up to 800 Kbps
Up to 1 Mbps
Up to 3 Mbps
Monthly Usage Allowance
2 GB
2 GB
25 GB
Monthly Charge for Additional Usage
$2.50/GB, maximum of $30 per month
Usage Insurance
$5.00 per month for extra 40 GB
Activation Fee
Turbo Stick provided at no charge
Turbo Hub: $3.95 monthly rental fee

The Bell appeal submission proposes the following timeline: -  “Interested parties would have 30 days from the date of this Application (e.g., no later than 20 October 2010) to comment and the Company [Bell] would have 10 days thereafter (e.g., no later than 1 November 2010) to file its reply.”
Furthermore “ …Company requests that the Commission confirm in its forthcoming process that it will issue its decision in respect of this Application no later than 90 days from the date of Decision 2010-637, or by 29 November 2010 in order to preserve the Company's rights pursuant to petition the Governor in Council for the review, variation and rescission of the DSL Technology Directive pursuant to section 12 of the Act.”
I believe the CRTC is now on the horns of a dilemma: if they rule against Bell, then Bell will petition the Governor in Council (i.e. the Federal Cabinet); if they rule in favour of Bell, one or more of the other HSPA or vested interest parties will appeal or take legal action. 
It will be interesting to watch Bell explain how it can offer this level of service for Deferral Account areas at the  prices proposed compared to the prices it charges its regular HSPA data customers in other areas.

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