The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. The Canadian Cable Television Association’s (CCTA) proposal for using the hundreds of millions of dollars sitting idle in the deferral account is at once both attractive and clearly problematic. In reading the cable industry association’s submission (see story on page 3), the CRTC will see its principles and words thrown back at it in a powerful way, but that raises a host of issues related to competition and universality that are sure to be pounced upon by the incumbent telcos. In the end, the commission will likely have little choice but to set the CCTA’s proposal aside as unworkable and counter to free enterprise tenets.   Acting CCTA president Michael Hennessy is correct to point out that the money doesn’t belong to the ILECs, but to the significant number of Canadians who have been overpaying their phone company since the price cap decision. It’s a quibble to point out that not all Canadians have been doing so - that many use competitive services. But the stranglehold that the incumbents have on the market is disputed by no one but a few parties. Further, the principle of universality is well-established, and we have no issue with the commission’s stated intention that use of the deferral account should benefit all Canadians.But, when one follows the CCTA’s proposal to its logical conclusion, the end result would be to force incumbent telcos to build fibre to far-flung communities whether they agree or not that those projects should be undertaken. They would, in effect, be the unwilling national contractors to a centrally-planned telecommunications strategy. Our objection is based not just on principle, but on the practical effect that would have on the incumbent telcos that are arguably a main engine of Canadian economic development. A mandated fibre build would require resources that Bell et. al. are likely unable to spare. Even if the proposal is cash-neutral, the effect would be to drain the incumbents of energy, time and talent. The CCTA makes an interesting argument, but the association would better spend its time finding ways to increase funding from the public purse to bring its service to areas that want it.