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ACM: rapid rollout of fiber-optic networks to which various internet providers are admitted will lead to sufficient competition

Thanks to the rollout of fiber-optic connections (also by independent providers), consumers and businesses in the Netherlands are able to choose between more and more high-speed broadband providers at competitive prices. Moreover, the fiber-optic networks are open to different providers. That is why, at the moment, no additional measures are needed for promoting competition on the high-speed broadband market. These are some of the conclusions of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in its analysis of the market for local internet access, which it has published on for consultation.

ACM’s latest Telecom Monitor has revealed that the number of fiber-optic connections has grown substantially. In the first quarter of 2023, new fiber-optic connections have been installed for 450,000 households, either to the outside of the home or into the home itself. This has been the highest quarterly increase on record. At the moment, 6.14 million households are able to choose a fiber-optic connection. ACM expects this number to increase further in the foreseeable future so that, within three years, fiber optic will have been installed practically everywhere in the Netherlands.

The first to install fiber-optic in an area will have a strong competitive advantage there. The rollout of fiber-optic by independent companies also drives investments made by the established competitors. In addition, competitors without networks of their own will have more opportunities for offering high-speed broadband, too. Last year, telecom operators KPN and Glaspoort, which, together, operate the largest fiber-optic network, have proposed to use lower tariffs through 2030. ACM has declared these tariffs binding in a commitment decision, and will enforce compliance with these commitments. As a result, consumers are able to choose between at least two different providers of high-speed broadband, and the majority of consumers is also able to opt for high-speed broadband over the cable network.

Nature of ACM’s oversight to change

Manon Leijten, Member of the Board of ACM, adds: “Thanks to the rapid rollout of fiber-optic with access for other competitors, there is sufficient competition in the market right now. Most consumers are able to choose from different companies for high-speed broadband at competitive prices. In the current situation, access regulation is not necessary, and, as such, the nature of our oversight changes. However, we will continue to keep a very close watch on the market and on consumers’ options, and we will also see to it that KPN and Glaspoort comply with the tariff commitments in the commitment decision. Furthermore, we will be on the lookout for consolidation on this market, as that could alter the competitive landscape.”

In the market analysis, ACM has expressly taken into account both the arrangements in the commitment decision, in which KPN’s and Glaspoort’s tariffs have been laid down, as well as the access that is offered by other owners of fiber-optic networks. ACM will continue to enforce compliance with the commitments and with the other rules for network providers. In its quarterly Telecom Monitors, ACM publishes the data provided by the most important market participants in the telecom industry. ACM may conduct new market analyses if necessary.

High-speed broadband in Amsterdam

In addition to its decision on local internet access in the Netherlands, ACM has also handed down a decision on the request filed by telecom operator YouCa to mandate rival operator VodafoneZiggo to grant YouCa access to VodafoneZiggo’s cable network in the city of Amsterdam. Multiple telecom operators have concrete plans for rolling out fiber-optic networks in Amsterdam to which they can admit other internet providers. On the basis of these developments, ACM expects that the majority of Amsterdam residents, too, will be able to take out broadband plans over fiber-optic within three years, just like in the rest of the Netherlands. That is why it is not necessary to assess whether mandatory access to the cable network in Amsterdam is needed. ACM had already established previously that it is not feasible to grant YouCa access to the cable network via thousands of street cabinets in Amsterdam. Following the responses to the consultation, ACM sees no reason for reconsidering its decision, and will thus submit the draft decision to the European Commission for notification.

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