Wednesday 16 July 2014

Bell Quarterly Deferral Account Report of 15 Jul 2014

The purpose of this blog entry is to provide an update on the Deferral Account construction status and provide some background information on the Deferral Account pricing.  

General Overview

The CRTC has published the most recent Bell quarterly Deferral Account Report. The report, dated 15 Jul 2014, adjusts the Ready for Service dates of the two Algoma District sites from the previous report in April 2014. The revised dates as applied to the Goulais and the SSM-Airport areas:

Date in Jul Report
Date in Apr Report
Echo Bay
31 Aug 2014
No change
09 Jul 2014
31 Jul 2014
SSM -Airport
09 Jul 2014
31 Jul 2014
St. Joseph Island
30 Jun 2014
No change
31 Aug 2014
No change

The date report only discusses the Wireless Access Summary (Tower, new sites, existing site upgrades, etc.)  and Wire Transport Summary (Backhaul).

There is no mention of the when new Deferral Account rate (price) plans will be available.

Bell has insisted in this report and other correspondence with the CRTC that they will complete the by the CRTC deadline of 31 August 2014. Since the rate (price) plan is part of the project, this should be the latest the Deferral Account prices will become available.

As noted in the background information below, the necessary back office details needed to implement the Deferral Account rate(price) plan is complete so it is hard to understand why the delay on presenting the cost savings to the users in the Deferral Account areas that have the necessary hardware infrastructure up and running.

Background Information

As directed by the CRTC  letter to Bell of 29 Oct 2012, The Bell report is suppose to contain a section, which this report does not,  on "The status of IS/IT system development to support the retail wireless broadband service, including the expected completion date".   

This may be because Bell had report previously in their Jul and Dec 2012 reports that work was due for and in fact completed by the end of 2012.

In these two reports, Bell acknowledges and  confirms that  there will be " approved services, including the pricing, specifically set for the deferral account-funded communities only", a phrase which appears in both reports.

This requirement is based on the following section of the Bell 15 Jul 2012 report:

"The development of the Retail Wireless Broadband Service requires modifying processes and systems to provide the approved services, including the pricing, specifically set for the deferral account-funded communities only.  Until this work is completed, even if the wireless technology infrastructure was built in a community, the Company could not launch the service.  This work is currently underway and will be completed before the end of 2012, prior to the launch of service to the nine communities."

Bell elaborated on this aspect of the project in the 31 Dec 2012 report:

"Status of the IS/IT System Development to Support the Retail Wireless Broadband Service

1.                    The development of the Retail Wireless Broadband Service required Bell to modify its processes and systems to be able to provide the approved services, including the pricing, specifically set for the deferral account-funded communities only.  This work, which was a prerequisite to being able to rollout the wireless broadband services to the approved communities, has now been completed.  The key activities that were carried out as part of this work include the following:

  1. -               Changes to the billing system to incorporate the price plans for the retail wireless broadband services that are or will be offered in the approved communities, including the monthly rates and data allowances; 
  2. -               Changes to the activation system and the development of a third-party application to pre-qualify eligible retail customers (i.e., determine if the address at which the person is requesting broadband services is within an approved deferral account community).  The activation system is used by the sales agent to select the desired price plan and hardware, perform credit checks and validate customer addresses, for example, and triggers the provisioning of the customer information and hardware in the billing system and network;
  3. -               Creation of a new Service Agreement to be provided to the deferral account retail customers;
  4. -    -             Integration of the Bell Mobility and other Bell systems to permit the provisioning of certain "DSL like" features such as Bell Mail (email);
  5. -              Changes to the online system for customer self-serve management of Bell Mail;
  6. -               Configuration of network elements to provide data usage notifications and Pay-Per-Use prompting for overage charges which allows customers to exceed the usage allotment of their plans and be notified of the pay-per-use $ per GB that they will incur; 
  7. -              Enhancements to existing and new Client Care support systems to support the broadband wireless services in the communities that are included in the program; 
  8. -              Contracting of a third-party for the initial installation and ongoing support of external antennas at the customer premises; 
  9. -               Testing and approvals for a dual-mode (LTE/HSPA+) Turbo Hub hardware (mobile broadband router) for use at the customer premises;
  10.  -               Creation of training materials to Sales, Client Care and Technical Support teams related to the services offered as part of the deferral account-funded program; and 
  11. -               Creation of direct mail campaign material to market the new service to prospective retail customers located in the approved communities."


  1. Well at least there is some movement-thanks for the update ADnet Guy

  2. Thanks for chasing this around and keeping everyone updated, as always.

    This bit has me worried: "...The activation system is used by the sales agent to select the desired price plan and hardware, perform credit checks and validate customer addresses...".

    How does the system validate a summer residence / cottage / camp customer address? My summer residence / address is withing the deferral account area but is not on any of my identification, or any billing histories, in any phone book, etc. From Bell's perspective, my name is associated with an address in town. I don't have any other Bell services at the cottage. I'm assuming they could lock these accounts to deferral sites, etc. but I still have a sinking feeling about enrollment issues for summer residents - any thoughts?

    1. How about using your property tax assessment/records to validate your address?

    2. Thanks, that's a good idea - as long as the system has a means to plug this sort of data in. Just hoping that this activation system and the people using it are flexible enough to accommodate whatever proof someone has available. I guess I'm paranoid since I haven't seen any crystal clear language around seasonal use. Picturing this scenario - walking into the Bell store, asking for the service, they ask for some ID, I show driver's license, or anything else with my city address, or they key my name into their 'directory" and up pops my current (city) address -- and they tell me I'm not eligible. I could be all wrong, but so far this still seems like a possibility.

    3. I do not think there should be a problem. Bell (and Tbaytel) does seasonal fairly well and are familiar with the concept. Bell even has a page on its website addressing the seasonal and suspended service concept; search seasonal services. There will likely be many others that will want Internet access in their seasonal homes once it becomes available.

      In the original application to the CRTC, Bell indicated that the data hub provided with the Deferral Account package would be portable and capable of being used anywhere on the Bell network. However, if the data hub connected to a cell site outside the Deferral Account area where it was registered, Bell will charge the normal (standard) l data plan rates.

      It is not technically difficult to track the location of the data hub relative to a Deferral Account cell site.

  3. I just found the following link for Bell "fixed wireless internet" which I think is new:

    Only a small number of areas are listed as available so far, and the data limits (10Gb) are basically useless for a fixed location with multiple devices attached. If this is what they are rolling out as their deferral plan option, it's a far cry from the cost/data originally discussed with the CRTC.

    1. This is a completely different program from the Deferral Account program. It reuses frequencies from the defunct Inukshuk program. Inukshuk was a joint Bell and Rogers offering that made use of a proprietary Wi-Max type technology. It was poorly marketed and only lasted about half a decade. This new fixed wireless uses LTE-TDD technology on the 3500 MHz frequency band.

      Rumour has it that Bell intends to expand the coverage areas and may resurrect a version of the Inukshuk name. I doubt if it will affect the Deferral Account locales.

      We are waiting for the details of the Deferral Account pricing.

  4. Does the new frequency (3500 MHz) imply exiting / older hubs could not be used for Deferral accounts? I assume Bell will supply new hubs for Deferral Account customers, just asking out of curiosity.

  5. The 3500 MHz reference is to Bell Fixed Wireless Internet offering as detailed at the following link: -

    There are two varieties of fixed wireless LTE in use across Canada; namely - FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) and TDD (Time Division Duplex.)

    FDD spectrum requires paired frequency bands, one for the uplink and one for the downlink, and TDD requires a single band as uplink and downlink are on the same frequency but time separated. (Most cellular based LTE uses paired bands.)

    The 3500 MHz reference has nothing to do with the Deferral Account hardware.

    My best guess is the Bell will supply the complete hardware package for the Deferral Account installation: - a new data hub, a set length of cabling and an external antenna with mounting hardware. If this is the case, I see no advantage for a customer to use any existing owned equipment. If Bell supplied equipment is used for the Deferral Account install, Bell retains some responsibility for its operation. If customer provided equipment is used, even if originally sourced from Bell, it opens the installation to finger pointing if problems arise.

  6. Many thanks for the clarifications....

  7. Is the new Goulais tower now active? I last commented back in 2013 regarding this and there as mention that in August 2014 service may improve in the upper island lake area. As of this point I may be in a dead zone if it is indeed activated. Any word?

  8. Bell activated the Goulais tower as a HSPA+ site operating in the 1900 MHz band in Oct 2012. In addition, a Bell towers located beside Beaumont Trailer Park (Heyden) and a site located at the Hwy 17 near the city limits are also active. It is possible that signals from any of these sited may be received in the general area of Upper Island Lake. These HSPA+ sites are in the schedule for upgrade in the near future to LTE.

    A review of the Bell Canada coverage map at:

    shows partial coverage of the area in question for both the current HSPA+ signal and the future LTE signal

    In both cases, there is a lack of coverage along the Old Mill Rd area. Dead spaces around the edge of lakes or along rivers often show up. This is due in part to the saucer effect where the water in question is bordered by higher ground which masks the terrain and causes the radio signal to skip over a specific location. This creates the dreaded dead zone.

    Sometimes it is possible to get a usable signal in these dead zones by adding an external antenna or a combination of an external antenna and indoor amplifier or signal booster. While some of these solutions will cost a few dollars, they have proven to be beneficial. More information about these systems can be found at Northland Consultants:

    1. Interesting.. What is unfortunate is that the CDMA service there works perfectly like a charm, as does the Rogers service. Bell and Koodo look like they've updated their maps recently showing full coverage in the area but I guess as you said the terrain makes it a dead zone?

    2. While the new Deferral Account towers and cell sites are built and active in HSPA+ 1900 MHz mode, we are still waiting for the Deferral Account rate structure, hardware and installation procedures to become available. This is expected to happen sometime around 31 Aug 2014. This is a Sunday of a long weekend so the date may be flexible. While the Upper Island Lake area is not a Deferral Account area, it may be impacted if it becomes necessary to fine tune the Deferral Account signal.

      As you noted, the Bell coverage map has been updated quite often recently. This is due in part to the activation of the new Deferral Account sites and LTE planning. As a point of interest, Bell, Telus, Solo, Koodo, and Virgin all use the same coverage map data.

      As to the CDMA shut down, this is happening throughout North America. The only major US CDMA carrier – Verizon – has announced its plan have its CDMA shut down by 20121. If this is the case, it looks like US CDMA customers, some who are seasonal residents in the Algoma District, will not have a Canadian roaming option for 5 or 6 years.