The European Commission (EC) has accepted a proposal by the Austrian telecoms regulator, Rundfunk und Telekom Regulierungs (RTR), to require Telekom Austria to provide ‘virtual’ access to its fixed local network to alternative operators via a virtual unbundling access product (vULL). This solution will, it is hoped, make it easier for new providers to enter the market, in particular regarding direct fibre access lines (which are currently not included in the unbundling obligations that apply to the telco’s copper network). However, the EC has underlined that this move should be seen as a transitional measure, and called upon RTR to work towards a long-term solution.
Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda at the EC commented: ‘For now, I accept the proposal of the Austrian regulator to ensure the virtual unbundling of the incumbent’s network. However, this is not a long-term replacement for physical fibre unbundling, which should be introduced as soon as possible. I therefore call upon RTR to improve its analysis at the earliest opportunity, and ensure that regulation is consistent and predictable, encouraging investment initiatives and protecting consumers’.