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Highest administrative-law court in the Netherlands has reversed ACM’s decision to open up the networks of KPN and VodafoneZiggo

Today, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb), which is the highest administrative-law court in the Netherlands, has handed down its ruling in the appeal proceedings on granting other telecom operators access to the networks of Dutch telecom operator KPN and Dutch cable operator VodafoneZiggo. The decision of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) about the right to access to both VodafoneZiggo’s network and that of KPN’s has thus been reversed.

This means that providers without networks of their own cannot demand access to those networks for offering services to people and businesses. ACM is disappointed with the ruling, and will now study the effects thereof. ACM emphasizes that its concerns about competition on telecommunication markets that are crucial to society have not subsided. The importance of access to networks as well as of investments in such networks is underscored even more so in times like these.

Market analysis decision

ACM had decided that both KPN and VodafoneZiggo should open up their fixed networks to other providers. This was laid down in the market analysis decision on Wholesale Fixed Access. This regulatory regime went into effect on 1 October 2018. Both KPN and VodafoneZiggo have strong positions on this market, and are able to use those positions to raise prices, adjust conditions to their advantage or to delay investments. ACM thus believed it was justified to open up the networks of both operators to competitors. In this way, providers without networks of their own, using one or both of those networks, would have been able to offer their services to people and businesses such as business services and broadband access for consumers (either in bundles or separately). This would have given consumers more options, while the increased competition would have led to lower prices, more innovation, and better services.