Netia, UKE in favour of nationalisation of broadband networks

28 Oct 2013

Polish internet service provider (ISP) Netia has called for the creation of a state-backed broadband infrastructure provider, rpkom writes. The comments followed an announcement that the government was considering allowing open pension funds (OFEs) to fund the construction of new high-speed broadband networks. Netia has backed the plan, saying that the proposal would support the deployment of infrastructure in areas that are not profitable for commercial providers. In such areas, providers would not expect to see a return on invested capital for around 20 years, too long a period for ISPs, but an attractive, risk-free opportunity for pension funds, according to Tom Ruhan, a member of Netia’s board and the company’s director of legal affairs and mergers and acquisitions.

In order to ensure a level playing field and to minimise risk to investors, however, Ruhan added that a state-backed firm should have a monopoly on all broadband infrastructure in Poland, requiring the nationalisation of the country’s existing broadband networks. The company would be barred from directly providing retail services, limiting itself to wholesale access only. An official from fixed line incumbent Orange Poland said that it was ‘interested in any solution that would accelerate the digitisation of the country’, but did not comment on the potential nationalisation of its fixed line infrastructure. The head of sector regulator the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) Magdalena Gaj supported the creation of a national network provider.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Netia’s own next generation infrastructure – its VDSL, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) networks – passed around 1.05 million homes in mid-2013. VDSL made up the lion’s share with around 708,000 homes passed, whilst FTTB made up a further 198,000 ports and FTTH 142,000.