Court frees KPN from remaining fixed voice regulations

7 Nov 2018

The Netherlands’ Trade & Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven, CBb) – the country’s apex court in telecom regulation matters – has upheld an appeal by incumbent PSTN operator KPN and removed its remaining wholesale fixed telephony regulatory obligations, with effect from 1 April 2019. The Authority for Consumers and Markets (Autoriteit Consument & Markt, ACM) had issued a decision on 23 February 2017 to continue regulating KPN’s wholesale services in the ‘dual call’ market (which includes business end user ISDN1/ISDN2 lines alongside IP lines supporting two simultaneous calls [‘VoB2’]) for three years ending March 2020, as it decided KPN retained a dominant position in the segment. The CBb has overturned this analysis, deciding that KPN cannot be declared a dominant operator beyond March 2019 due to factors including ISDN user decline and decommissioning in favour of IP-based services alongside the availability of competing services including those of chief rival VodafoneZiggo (with a cable/IP network reaching over 90% of the country).

Other aspects of ACM’s February 2017 market analysis decision removed KPN’s regulatory obligations (including access and tariff obligations) in the wholesale fixed telephony markets for ‘single call’ services (consumer/small business basic PSTN and single-channel IP lines) and ‘multiple call’ services (corporate/public sector) from March 2017 onwards, due to sufficient competition in those markets. Furthermore, ACM’s decision withdrew KPN’s obligations in the retail markets for dual and multiple call services from March 2017 (whilst the retail market for single call services had already been deregulated under ACM’s previous May 2012 fixed telephony market analysis ruling). The CBb’s latest decision (issued 6 November 2018, see link below) separately included rejections of the appeals of Tele2 NL and Pretium; these competitors had disagreed with ACM’s 2017 market analysis and wanted additional regulation imposed on KPN, having argued that the telco remained dominant in the single call services market.