In Telecom Order CRTC 98-497, dated May 22, 1998, the CRTC permitted Bell to go ahead with its Internet Call Display, while generally creating a greater level of unbundling of the network elements used by Bell to offer the service. Internet Call Display allows a subscribing customer, when their line is busy because of dialing into their internet service, to receive notice of an incoming call by means of a “pop-up” window on through their internet connection. For InfoInterActive Inc. (“IIA”) to offer a competing service, Bell offered the ability to route Call Forward on Busy to a different number from that programmed for Call Forward – No Answer. Until this time, competitive providers of voice mail services had the ability to request a combined Call Forward on Busy/No Answer to route to a common number. By unbundling the Busy and No Answer routing, Bell has created more opportunities for competitors to develop creative enhancements to internet-based incoming call management. At the same time, IIA had sought the ability to provide their portfolio of services to Bell Canada’s Call Answer customers. The CRTC accepted Bell’s arguments which prevent subscribers to Bell Canada’s own voice mail service from trying out a competing internet call management service provider.
In another Order issued on June 8, Telecom Order CRTC 98-558 denied Bell’s request to aggregate digital tie trunk access for centrex into bundles of 24. The CRTC found that the rating principles used by Bell were inappropriate in that charges would be too high for digital trunk groups that did not require the full 24 circuits. At the same time, the CRTC indicated in its Order that it would be prepared to approve a tariff structure composed of two elements: a digital termination charge (in bundles of 24) and a per channel charge for the remaining cost elements. While the Commission agreed with some of the cost comparisons made by intervenors, it failed to fully assess whether the charge for the remaining cost elements is reasonable, Further, the Commission denied the request of the intervenors to more fully examine the basis of these charges.
These two Orders are indicating some of the thinking that the CRTC is having toward total services competition. On one hand, the CRTC is encouraging greater levels of unbundling to permit competitors to offer a similar portfolio of services. On the other hand, the Commission is not prepared to hand over the telcos customer base to service providers looking to easily skim off the cream. Consistent with its May 1, 1997 Local Competition Decisions, the CRTC seems to be looking for lasting, sustained competition.