Buildings owners are once again finding themselves embroiled in a debate over control of the telecom wires that snake through their properties. Having already battled with telcos and regulators over the complex issue of copper wire, groups like the Canadian Institute of Public and Private Real Estate Companies (CIPPREC) and the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario (FRPO) are using that experience to press their case for freer access to coaxial cable wires. In PN CRTC 2000-81, the commission is soliciting comments on what type of policy should govern the cable industry’s inside wire. Below is an edited transcript from CIPPREC and FRPO’s August 21 submission to the commission. CIPPREC and FRPO note that the non-interference model proposed by the Canadian Cable Television Association and accepted by the CRTC is philosophically consistent with the its June 5 telecom decision in the Norigen/East Link Part VII Application where incumbent phone companies were required to sub-unbundle in-building wire. It is unclear in the telecom world and likely equally unclear in the cable world as to who in fact owns the in-building wiring and cabling in all cases. Since there is no registry for in-building wire, and often poor record-keeping within organizations, there may be situations where the in-building wire had been originally paid for by a building owner, has been abandoned by the original cable provider, has accreted to the freehold by way of the law of fixtures, or has been expressly or impliedly transferred to a building owner during the course of dealing. A service provider’s ability to allow third parties to use cable under the non-interference model is limited to those situations where the licensee owns the inside wire and, presumably, can prove it. This begs the question of what happens if ownership is unclear.In PN 2000-81, it is suggested the non-interference model eliminates the need to ascertain who owns the inside wire. This is an oversimplification since ownership denotes the right to use, profit from or destroy. A non-interference model should not be confused with ownership. We do not see how a non-interference model addresses concerns respecting legal liability for abandoned wiring. The person who has responsibility and control for the wiring is not necessarily the only defendant if, for example, a fire is caused. There may be some efforts to seek out an owner to add as a co-defendant. By way of analogy, the owner of a stolen car may still be liable if the car is in an accident. That owner did not have responsibility and control, but still had ownership. The statement (in PN 2000-81) that the licensee who owns inside wire shall retain ownership of it, is arguably beyond the jurisdiction of the CRTC and will be subject to applicable property laws, including the law of fixtures. In other words, notwithstanding the CRTC’s pronouncement of ownership, common law and provincial statute law govern the rights of property and there may be situations where ownership does pass or has passed by operation of law. CIPPREC and FRPO appreciate the comments of the commission respecting the integrity of property that service providers neither own nor control. We presume that the same respect will be applied to owners of private real estate (multiple dwelling units). This has not been the case in telecom, where clogged risers, redundant wiring, poor record keeping and uneconomic use of space is the norm, reflecting complete indifference of ILEC’s to the integrity of property.