Thursday 2 August 2012

Bell's Deferral Account Report of 31 Jul 12

The CRTC has released the Bell Deferral Account report submitted by Bell  on 31 Jul 2012 and it is a shocker.

The report completely revamps the schedule and throws out all previous ones, including the barebones version submitted as recently as May 2012 and reported in this blog. The bottom line is Bell states it will not be a position to implement the Deferral Account wireless plan until 31 Aug 2014. It shows 100 Deferral Account locales being activated on that date.

This includes the 5 areas in the Algoma District and means that, barring further changes by Bell, the Deferral Account service implementation is now not scheduled as follows:

Deferral Account Area
Original Date
New Date
Echo Bay
31 Aug 2014
31 Aug 2014
SSM -Airport
31 Aug 2014
St. Joseph Island
31 Aug 2014
31 Aug 2014

I suspect Bell will proceed with the activation of some new sites in the Goulais and SSM-Airport areas but they will not be part of the Deferral Account program initially and will not be eligible for the special rates until much later, if ever. 

In my simplified interpretation, Bell states the implementation of the HSPA+ wireless solution will be much more complicated than anticipated and it wants to conduct field trials in nine selected locations as shown on this map, all of which happen to be in southern Ontario, before rolling out the technology in all Deferral Account areas.  

You can read the full Bell report  and the Bell schedule as released by the CRTC by following the links.

It is obvious the new proposal is a major disappointment to those living in the Deferral Account areas. The question now becomes one of whether or not the CRTC will accept the Bell plan or force them to somehow speed up the roll-out.  At the Telecom Summit in Toronto on 05 Jun 12, Leonard Katz, Acting Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission made the following statement concerning Bell  and the Deferral Account program;

“Unfortunately, it's a different story with Bell Canada and Bell Aliant. Nearly two years after we issued our directive, Bell has extended broadband service to only three of its 112 communities.
Broadband service is more and more of a necessity for full participation in the digital economy and in our life as Canadians. The funds were collected over a number of years from Bell subscribers. I urge our friends at Bell to give a higher priority to the needs of the people in these rural and remote communities by accelerating their rollout plans.”

One can hope that the CRTC will continue to press Bell to speed up the implementation. In the cases of the Algoma District areas, I suspect Bell could roll-out DSL quicker and with less effort than the challenges they seem to be facing with the HSPA+ wireless roll-out. A lot depends on whether or not the existing pole-lines could handle the additional cable loads.

I will be doing some follow-up work in this whole Deferral Account arena and will pass-on other observations in due course.