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ACM: further assessment is needed in areas with high-speed broadband over cable only

The Netherlands Authority for Consumer and Markets (ACM) will assess whether measures are needed to promote competition in areas where people are only able to take out high-speed broadband plans (at least 200 Megabits per second) over the cable network. This was announced in a statement issued by ACM about the progress of its ongoing market study into the market for broadband access. In addition, ACM will investigate whether telecom operator YouCa must be granted access to telecom operator VodafoneZiggo's cable network in the city of Amsterdam. YouCa wishes to compete with VodafoneZiggo’s services in the Amsterdam market. ACM finds the first option (granting access to the cable network via thousands of street cabinets) not suitable, and will now assess whether another option is.

Following last summer’s decision on the commitments of Dutch telecom operator KPN and fiber-optic company Glaspoort on lower tariffs for internet providers that want access to their fiber-optic networks, ACM continued its study into the market for local broadband access. In that context, ACM identified different categories based on what networks have been rolled out in any one area. This has resulted in five types of areas, where ACM will assess whether there is sufficient competition. Healthy competition means that consumers have plenty to choose from as suppliers offer products at competitive prices and of good quality.
“We see that competition is working well in areas where people are able to take out broadband plans over fiber-optic,” says Member of the Board of ACM Manon Leijten. Ms. Leijten adds: “In such areas, broadband providers seek to retain or attract customers, for example through promotional deals, thus lowering their prices for plans with higher download speeds.”

Areas without fiber-optic

There are also areas where households are only able to take out high-speed broadband over the cable network. This is currently the case for approximately 3 million households in the Netherlands, predominantly in larger cities, where the roll-out of fiber-optic is not planned until later. Since only a single provider is active on the cable network, those who want high-speed broadband have no alternatives. ACM believes it is important that, in such cities too, consumers are able to take advantage of competitive broadband offers. That is why ACM will further assess whether, in those cities, measures are needed to create more competition.

The Amsterdam cable market

Amsterdam is one of those cities, as approximately 75% of Amsterdam households do not yet have a fiber-optic connection. These households are only able to take out high-speed broadband over the cable network, on which VodafoneZiggo is the only provider. Telecom provider YouCa has requested access to the cable network, allowing it to compete with VodafoneZiggo in Amsterdam. According to the rules, the first option that must be considered is access using the street cabinets, since these are the closest to consumers. There are thousands of street cabinets in Amsterdam, as a result of which the costs would be too high for YouCa to compete profitably. Moreover, it would lead to high costs for VodafoneZiggo, and potentially to nuisance in the city. That is why ACM will not require VodafoneZiggo to grant YouCa access to the cable network using the access points in street cabinets. ACM will consult this decision with market participants, and will additionally assess whether a different form of access is needed for ensuring effective competition with regard to high-speed broadband in Amsterdam. In this assessment, ACM will use the data from the market analysis into local broadband access.

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