OPTA orders cablecos to open networks

6 Aug 2008

Dutch telecoms watchdog the Independent Post Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) yesterday published a draft decision which compels the country’s cable TV operators to open their networks up to rivals wishing to sell analogue TV services. The new rules, which are expected to enter into effect on 1 January 2009, will affect cablecos such as Ziggo and Liberty Global’s UPC Nederland, which between them control around four-fifths of the domestic cable market. In its statement, OPTA says those affected by the decision have until 30 September to express their objections. The country’s cable companies’ association has already bemoaned what it sees as a step backwards, rather than forwards. Reuters quotes NLKabel director Rob van Esch as saying: ‘Consumers have switched to digital television en masse … OPTA is turning the clock back by proposing that analogue television providers be included [on networks].’ The regulator also intends to ease restrictions on former monopoly telecoms operator KPN, saying there is now sufficient competition in the consumer market. The telco has long argued that it has to allow alternative operators to have access on its network while the cable operators – which carry voice and data services – are under no such obligation.