Where bigger isn’t better

Size matters. When it comes to paying cost awards for public interest groups participating in telecommunications regulatory proceedings, allocations are generally based on relative size of the companies’ telecommunications operating revenues (TORs).

A recent series of cost awards associated with Telecom and Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2022-28, “When and how communications service providers must provide paper bills”, attracted a number of cost applications that were awarded $53,646.72 as follows:

As a matter of practice, the CRTC doesn’t allocate amounts less that $1000 in order to simplify cheque processing and collections for both the recipient and the payor. As a result, despite the possibility of allocating costs between Bell, Eastlink, Distributel, Videotron, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw, TekSavvy, TELUS, and Xplornet, the formula used by the CRTC resulted in costs being charged just to Bell, Rogers and TELUS.

Rogers has filed an appeal of the awards [zip, 1.8 MB], questioning the CRTC on the correctness of the revenues used to determine the allocations between the companies footing the bills.

The total amounts under dispute are not huge, relative to some files we have seen, such as nearly half a million dollars sought by various groups in the 2008 internet traffic management proceeding.

Rogers is wondering what the CRTC used as the basis for its allocations. Did the Commission use wireless revenues or total revenues? Did the regulator include the revenues from all the related companies and subsidiaries on behalf of which Bell responded?

Rogers says it is paying the awarded amounts in the meantime to ensure the public interest groups aren’t caught without funding in the interim, saying that it will collect reimbursement from the other service providers, should the CRTC rule in its favour.

A similar issue arose a couple years ago when TELUS challenged cost award allocations in a proceeding that led to Telecom Decision CRTC 2020-33.

As you will recall, I have expressed concerns about some past recipients of funding. It is good to see the level of attention to detail being paid to relatively small amounts of money in these cost awards.

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