SFN renews push for regulation of Swisscom’s fibre

26 Nov 2018

Infrastructure group Swiss Fiber Net (SFN) is appealing to the government to revisit regulation of wholesale access to Swisscom’s fibre infrastructure with the hope of improving cooperation with the market leader and minimising duplication of infrastructure. SFN is a joint venture of local and regional utility providers that looks to combine fragmented fibre-optic networks into a ‘homogenous, extensive, open Swiss optical fibre network’, and currently connects around 500,000 homes nationwide but is planning to expand to several hundred thousand more premises over the next few years. In an interview with Handelszeitung, SFN CEO Andreas Waber explained that Swisscom had ceased working with regional providers for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts after the local regulator mandated the laying of multiple fibre lines into homes to allow for competition and prevent infrastructure operators from gaining an unfair advantage. The official noted that in the wake of this decision Swisscom ceased working on FTTH products and instead focused on replacing fibre elements apart from the copper last-mile, putting its effort into other FTTx systems as well as G.Fast and VDSL technologies. Swisscom was able to avoid regulation in the past by offering to improve its networks so that 90% of the population would have access to download speeds of 80Mbps or more by 2021, and arguing that a FTTH deployment would cost ‘three times as much’ and take longer. Swisscom had also warned that regulating its fibre infrastructure would weaken it and force it to focus on investments with a ‘safer’ prospect of returns – indicating that it would it curtail improvement works in rural or remote areas. SFN is disputing that assertion, however, with Mr Waber claiming that the deployment of fibre could be carried out in a more economical manner via cooperation.