ANCOM removes wholesale broadband access obligations; Orange, Vodafone aghast

13 Nov 2015

Romanian telecoms regulator ANCOM has issued a final decision withdrawing obligations previously imposed on incumbent Telekom Romania Communications in the wholesale broadband local network access market, having ruled that the PSTN operator no longer has significant market power (SMP) in the segment. Scrapping the previous SMP obligations it placed on Telekom Romania (formerly RomTelecom) in 2010, ANCOM’s analysis concluded that the retail fixed internet access market has strong infrastructure-based competition and therefore determined that ex-ante regulation in the corresponding wholesale market is no longer necessary. For existing wholesale contracts, Telekom must continue to honour obligations of transparency, non-discrimination, granting access and tariff control regarding its local loop infrastructure-based broadband services for a transitional one-year period, while accounting separation obligations will be withdrawn beginning with the financial statements for full-year 2015.

Furthermore, ANCOM rejected pleas from alternative operators including Vodafone Romania and Orange Romania (chiefly mobile providers which also offer fixed services) who claimed that existing wholesale broadband access obligations should not be scrapped but rather expanded to include other large infrastructure-based players such as cableco/fibre operator RCS&RDS (the fixed broadband market leader by retail subscribers). Orange and Vodafone had criticised ANCOM for ‘overlooking’ RCS&RDS’ dominant market share and ‘overestimating’ the level of competition. The regulator’s decision is subject to EU competition authority approval.