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Decision to deregulate high-quality wholesale access (HWT) is finalized

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has finalized the decision to abolish the regulation of the market for high-quality wholesale access (HWT). The European Commission (EC) has assessed ACM’s decision and has issued no comments.

On the HWT market, telecom operators extend access to their networks to other telecom operators. These particular kinds of access services are of high quality and very high reliability, catering exclusively to business end-users. The regulatory regime for this market only concerned access to the copper network; access to fiber networks has been deregulated for some time.

“Our market analysis showed that this access market does not have any bottlenecks resulting from a single market participant’s market power. Only very limited use is being made of the regulated access,” Manon Leijten, Member of the Board of ACM, explains. “We see that this market can also function well without regulation, which is why, in this particular case, ACM is abolishing the regulation. Of course, we’ll continue to closely follow developments on the business market and this access market."

Market analysis of local access

Meanwhile, ACM is also working on a draft market analysis decision regarding the market for local access. This decision concerns access to fixed telecom networks, on which market participants with no national network depend in order to supply internet, television and phone services to households and businesses. In particular, this market analysis focuses on whether ACM should regulate access to the fixed telecom networks of Dutch telecom operator, KPN.

ACM expects to publish a draft decision before the end of the first quarter of 2022. After that, the draft decision will be open for consultation for a minimum of six weeks, so market participants can express their views on it. After studying the responses, ACM will decide whether regulation is actually necessary. The market analysis was announced in July 2021. At the time, it was expected that ACM would publish the draft decision in the fall of 2021.

Empirical foundation

“Of course, we aim to inform concerned parties as soon as possible whether and, if so, how regulation of access to fixed networks is necessary,” Manon Leijten emphasizes. “At the same time, we have to work meticulously. For the market analysis, we’ve collected extensive market data, which is being used for comprehensive analyses. These analyses provide a sound empirical foundation for the draft decision, but it’s taking more time than originally anticipated.”

Also see:

23-12-2021 Market analysis decision on high-quality wholesale access (in Dutch)
18-11-2021 ACM submits decision on deregulating high-quality wholesale access (HWT) to the European Commission
09-07-2021 ACM explores regulation of access to telecom networks