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."