Norwegian telecoms regulator the National Communications Authority (Nasjonal kommunikasjonsmyndighet, Nkom) has unveiled a series of proposals relating to the regulation of the country’s broadband markets. In outlining its plans, the watchdog said it had analysed three markets, namely: wholesale local access provided at a fixed location (Market 3a); wholesale central access provided at a fixed location for mass-market products (Market 3b); and wholesale high-quality access provided at a fixed location (Market 4).
With regards to Markets 3a and 3b, the Nkom said it had concluded that competition conditions are not significantly dissimilar in different parts of the country, and as such it will continue to consider both segments on a national basis. Meanwhile, based on its analysis of Markets 3a and 3b, the regulator has confirmed that its believes fixed line incumbent Telenor Norge still holds significant market power (SMP) and as such it will continue to be subject to regulation. In line with this, in the new regulatory period – which the Nkom noted would apply from ‘autumn 2018’ – Telenor will be required to provide access to its copper and fibre infrastructure. The regulator has said, however, that it did not find any basis for imposing a requirement that Telenor provide access to its HFC network. Access to both the telco’s copper and fibre access networks is to be granted on non-discriminatory and transparent terms, while Telenor will be subject to price regulation in the form of price caps for traditional access products offered via its copper infrastructure. With regards to fibre, meanwhile, Telenor will continue to be subject to a ‘margin squeeze test’ to ensure that wholesale customers taking the telco’s Virtual Unbundled Local Access (VULA) service can offer similar retail fibre services as Telenor at a positive margin.
Meanwhile, in what the Nkom termed an ‘important part of the assessment’, it has now determined how Telenor’s copper network will be upgraded, after the Broadband Forum (Bredsbandforum) – the working group tasked with tackling the matter – had been unable to reach a voluntary solution. The Nkom has decided that alternative operators will be permitted to upgrade the copper infrastructure owned by Telenor, though the latter will retain the first right of refusal to carry out upgrades in any given area. Where any upgrade is undertaken, the company undertaking it must ensure that the network will be able to offer wholesale connectivity, which will be subject to wholesale margin regulation, non-discrimination, transparency and notification obligations.
Rounding out its proposals, the Nkom has said it intends to deregulate Market 4, noting that while the barriers to entry in the market are still high for those seeking to offer such services on a nationwide basis, it found that the retail market for wholesale high-quality access services was ‘characterised by effective competition between several providers’.
A consultation on the Nkom’s proposals has been launched, with submissions being accepted until 12 March 2018, following which the regulator will review any comments and submit updated draft decisions to the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) for assessment. Once that body has given its feedback, the watchdog expects to issue a final decision in 3Q18.