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ACM explores regulation of access to telecom networks

Over the past few months, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has carried out studies into whether consumers and businesses could benefit from better price-quality ratios for their broadband, television, fixed telephony, and data connections. ACM has also analyzed the telecom operators’ annual price increases relative to the costs they incur as well as to the quality they offer. In addition, ACM looked into the rates that Dutch telecom operator KPN charges and into its conditions that apply to market participants in the telecom sector that seek access to KPN’s copper and fiber-optic networks.

On the basis of these studies, ACM has identified a risk that KPN’s access conditions can make it more difficult for competitors to compete. That can, in the future, lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses, and to reduced demand for high-speed broadband. Therefore, ACM sees reason for drafting a market analysis decision, in which it is assessed whether access to the fixed telecom networks should be regulated, and if so, how.

Draft decision

ACM expects to publish a draft decision for consultation on its website this fall, allowing all telecom operators to submit their opinions. After examining these opinions, ACM will decide whether regulation is truly necessary.

Over the past year, high download speeds have become even more important, and more and more households in the Netherlands are connected to fiber-optic networks. Besides availability of fast download speeds, affordability thereof is just as important.

Access

As a result of a 2020 ruling by the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb), the regulatory regime governing access to KPN’s and VodafoneZiggo’s networks was abolished. That means that telecom operators without nationwide fixed networks of their own do not have access to those networks against regulated conditions. After the ruling, VodafoneZiggo withdrew its access offer. KPN, however, continued to offer access to its networks, but it did adjust several access conditions.