The CRTC is exploring the possibility of re-regulating interexchange private line services (IXPL) in the aftermath of telecommunications industry consolidation in the recent past, despite the commission’s best efforts in reducing red tape facing telecommunications service providers. The CRTC is now in full consultation mode on potential changes, having issued a letter on November 29 seeking more information on the availability of IXPL services to competitive telcos. For years the CRTC has granted forbearance from regulating IXPL service when a new entrant had more than one option. This could be in the form of two or more providers offering service or the ability of a CLEC to do its own build economically."Commission staff notes that recent developments imply that, on some IXPL routes where the commission has forborne from the regulation of the provision of IXPL services, there may be routes where offers or the provision of IXPL services can only use capacity obtained from the ILEC or an in-territory affiliate of the ILEC," the letter states. It cites as examples Vidéotron Télécom ltée’s abandonment of IXPL services, the takeover of Allstream Inc. by MTS Communications Inc. and Bell Canada’s purchase of Canadians assets from 360networks Corp., which had earlier been taken over from GT Group Telecom. Bell has since agreed to sell 360networks’ eastern Canadian local lines to Call-Net Enterprises Inc. (NL, Nov. 25/04) but the IXPL service was not part of the deal. Call-Net investigated other options for IX lines but none were viable. At one point Rogers Cable approached Industry Canada for funding to do a build in St. John’s NL but was turned down. Had the rollout gone ahead, the cableco and Call-Net would have shared the grid. "I think that’s our dilemma. Once upon a time there were two competitors; now there’s one. The test is (whether) economically and technically you can duplicate it," Call-Net senior VP Jean Brazeau tells Network Letter. "I’m not sure if this presumptive test really works. I think the commission needs more of a factual test whereby it can guarantee itself that there is sustainable competition on those routes before it forbears." Bell complained to the commission that it needed more time to prepare its submission. The original deadline was December 13 for comments and December 22 for replies. The country’s largest phone company argued that the CRTC was stepping into new territory when it suggested bringing IXPL service back under its regulatory wing. "Re-regulation is a novel concept which has never before been the subject of a public proceeding before the commission," Bell chief of regulatory affairs Mirko Bibic wrote on December 3. The CRTC agreed with Bell and granted an extension of January 12 for comments and January 24 for replies. Bibic is grateful for the extra time. "We indicated that re-regulation was a novel concept because it has never been the subject of a direct debate before the commission. As such, there are no precedents on whether it can be done, when it is appropriate or how it should be carried out," the Bell executive tells NL in an email. "While we do not want to speculate on the commission’s views, we would disagree that it is a ‘done deal’ at this stage. We certainly hope that the matter would not be prejudged pending completion of the proceeding on the subject. In short, in our view it may be overly simplistic to think of the options in black and white, in the sense that the choices are either a return to pre-forbearance regulation or the status quo." Brazeau concurs with his ILEC colleague. "I think it needs to be more than just ‘oh well there used to be a player or second provider, there’s only one, therefore we re-regulate.’ I think they need to revisit the whole notion of when do they forbear on these routes," he says.The Call-Net veteran expects the entire proceeding will be a long process, adding jokingly "longer than it takes for tariff approval for Bell Canada."