For carriers and cities alike, the process of coordinating telecom projects within municipal jurisdiction can be a daunting task.

Consider this hypothetical scenario: After the city has made a much needed repair to a sidewalk, residents find the concrete has to be torn up so that telecom cables could be installed.

To avoid this and other similar situations, city officials and the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, telecommunications industry players and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had been working on developing a document that would help telecom and city officials negotiate the terms of installation and maintenance of telecom infrastructures in city property.

Today, the CRTC announced that both parties can now refer to a model municipal access agreement (MAA) which could be used as a template for such negotiations.

“Telecommunications companies need access to streets and other municipal property to install, upgrade or maintain their facilities, which include fibre-optic cable,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC in a statement today. “The model agreement will help municipalities save time and money in their negotiations and enable telecommunications companies to provide high-quality service to Canadians.”

Prior to the model MAA, some municipalities have resorted to seeking the help of cloud service hosting companies to manage right-of-way iissues.

For instance, back in 2011 the city of Ottawa signed a contract with Massachusetts-based Envista Corp., which offers a hosted right-of-way public works management suite of applications for North American governments.

Envista allows the sharing and markup of PDF and Microsoft Word documents, centralizes project data and lets users apply for permits online. Envista can show a colour-code map of what streets are being worked on and when, displaying road closures and other traffic impediments.

The CRTC said that MAAs have been successfully negotiated between carriers and municipalities in the past without the CRTC’s intervention. However, in exceptional cases, the commission “has had to issue decisions on a case-by-case basis to resolve disputes on matters related to access to municipal rights-of-way.”

“…A model MAA would benefit both Canadian carriers and municipalities by providing for predictability, lower personnel cost in terms of time and money and the entry into new small markets on a more efficient basis, while allowing for a degree of customization to incorporate unique circumstances,” the CRTC said.

The MAA deals primarily with issues such as: Municipal consent, hazardous substances and materials; road occupancy permits, rights-of-way, costs to be carried by municipalities; third party and sub-contractor agreements; service level agreements; maintenance and repair responsibilities; equipment use and invoicing.

However, the document also allows for parties to add other provisions and items.

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