Thursday 17 May 2012

Bell Elaborates on the Deferral Account Plan 17 May 12

Bell has submitted an additional report to the CRTC concerning Deferral Account status that elaborates on the rather skimpy information provide in the 30 Mar 12 report discussed in the blog on 03 Apr 12. All items in quotes are from the recent Bell submission to the CRTC.

The new report gives greater detail about the Deferral Account work program which needs to be completed before the service can be offered to the public in the Deferral Account areas. Unfortunately, the item most blog readers are interested in – the roll-out schedule - has been blanked out. Bell’s reasoning is: - “To release the draft roll-out plan contained herein may convey plans to communities that will change significantly once the detailed roll-out plan is finalized and put on the public record at the end of July.”

The report also clarifies that Bell “plans on deploying broadband services to the reaming 109 approved communities using the wireless HSPA+ technology. Completion of the roll-out to all communities is planned for 31 August 2014, consistent with [CRTC] decision 2010-637.”

Bell provided a public high level schedule in the report as follows but it does not identify the communities (Deferral Account areas):

  1. By 31 December 2012, seven communities are expected to be in-service;
  2. Between 1 January 2013 and 30 April 2013, eight more communities are expected to be rolled out:
  3. Between 1 May 2013 and 31 December 2013, 28 additional communities are expected to be rolled out; and
  4. Between 1 January 2014 and 31 August 2014, the remaining 66 communities will be in-service by 31 August 2014.

The report identifies three categories of work that needs to be done before Deferral Account service can be activated in a specific area;

  1. System Development. This is the IS/IT systems that need to be in place to support the service “including the pricing, specifically set for the deferral account-funded communities only. Until this work is completed, even if the HSPA+ technology infrastructure was built in a community, the Company could not launch the service. This work is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2012.”
  2. Wireline Transport. “Construction of wireline transport includes augmentation of the transport equipment where required in the core network and building the fibre to the tower sites in the deferral account-funded communities.” This clarifies the initial report that gave rise to the possibility that fibre would be used instead of HSPA+. Unfortunately it looks like we will be stuck with HSPA+
  3. Wireless Access. This covers the design, engineering, real estate acquisition and construction of the actual towers and installation of the electronics for the broadband transmission.

I find the procedure for roll-to interesting. According to the report, “…for a given community, once the wireline transport is ready and 80% of the households have access to broadband from a site or tower in the community, broadband service will be made available to those customers. The remaining customers in the community will be provided access as the additional sites required are constructed.” My interpretation of this is that the Deferral Account rates will be only offered once the criteria are met. When this is combined with the System Development requirement noted above, the new site at Goulais may be initially commissioned as a normal cell site in 3rd quarter 2012 and perhaps converted to Deferral Account service afterwards.

An attachment to the report lists the 109 communities designated for Deferral Account service. In the Algoma District they are: Echo Bay (Sylvan Valley and rural area around the community), Goulais, SSM-Airport (the Pointes area), St Joseph Island and Wawa.

The next milestone appears to be the release of the detailed schedule.