The rulings by the CRTC to extend the winback promotion period and to roll out Ethernet services are being heralded as victories by both sides in the telecom disputes. The commission gave enough to each to justify the favourable reaction.In Telecom Decision 2004-4, the regulator granted a Part VII application from Call-Net Enterprises Inc. that would establish an education program on local competition. The period during which ILECs are prohibited from winning back former subscribers has been increased from three months to a year. The CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) is looking at the loop provisioning process. Field visits by ILECs for CLEC clients are forbidden, save for circumstances where similar visits would be required for incumbent subscribers. Call-Net lost a bid for new service standards for residential loop provisioning and rate changes for local loops and related services. A bid for interim relief was also denied. In Telecom Decision 2004-5, the commission granted interim approval to the introduction of Ethernet access service by Bell Canada, a service that would also be available to other carriers. Bell will also be rolling out an Ethernet CO connecting link arrangement for competitor use. Other ILECs were ordered to provide similar service to their rivals. One of those rivals thought the rulings would come out differently. "I was very surprised," Jean Brazeau, senior VP regulatory and strategic partnerships at Call-Net tells Network Letter. "I was expecting almost the opposite that they would make a definitive decision on Ethernet and then punt most of the issues on our local competition application to other proceedings or ongoing and new proceedings." In its original Part VII, Call-Net had argued that competition has not rolled out as initially expected, citing pronouncements from former Industry Canada minister Allan Rock, from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and from CRTC chair Charles Dalfen. Brazeau sees some echo of that in 2004-4. Objectives on competition"We have the same objective as the commission and the government has, which is let’s get some real competition in the marketplace," he notes. "The commission has its foot on the accelerator and they could have pressed a little harder on the accelerator by giving us this two-year discount off of the loops and they would have achieved the objective that they’re trying to achieve. And that’s what I found most disappointing." Bell Canada, not surprisingly, has an entirely different outlook on the matter. It thinks the CLECs had their hands slapped by the CRTC."I think the basic message of both of these decisions is that the commission is going to stick to their facilities-based approach to competition and they’re not going to give the CLECs access at uneconomic breaks," Lawson Hunter, executive VP at BCE Inc. tells NL. "To be honest I think they’re a bit concerned that they’re now seeing the CLECs sort of saying, ‘oh, well maybe the commission will just make our business case for us and we won’t have to invest anything.’ And I think the commission is saying ‘that’s not the plan. If you folks think that you can just cut your capital expenditures and dividend out all your profit to your shareholders, that’s not part of our plan.’" The CRTC rejected a proposal by Call-Net that ILECs include billing inserts to name competitors offering telephony in their region. Most of the information on competition will be provided online."The commission directs the CISC to develop a proposal for specific content and wording to be included in a new section of the CRTC web site dedicated to information on local competition," the commission wrote. It also ordered the major ILECs to include references to the new web page on their bills for one year. Both telecom executives agree that the CLECs won big in the winback provisions. A request by Aliant Telecom Inc. that the winback rules be eliminated in its serving area, due to EastLink Cable’s telephony offering, was denied by the CRTC. Winbacks are essential in all regions, the regulator noted. "The commission agrees that winback activity can be a feature of mature competitive markets," the CRTC states in 2004-4. "However, the residential local market is not a mature competitive market."Hunter expected that the CRTC would give the CLECs something on the winback issue. He did not predict they would get as much as they did. "I was a bit surprised that they went to a year and I guess they used some of our evidence against us," he says. "We filed some evidence which basically said winback promotions were not that major a reason why customers come back to us anyway. But I’d say that’s one thing I was bit disappointed in." Call-Net’s Brazeau counters that the move was necessary. CLECs require a stable customer base. " recognized that, given the long relationship people have with the incumbents as their service provider, it’s very easy for them to win these customers back," he remarks. "In recognition of that, they extended the period and I think it’s going to help us tremendously. People, I think, underestimate the importance of this." The commission still has other proceedings involving winback promotions on its docket.