ACM to be given increased powers to monitor fixed telecoms competition

29 May 2020

The Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) yesterday (28 May 2020) welcomed a new legislative bill passed by the House of Representatives designed to expand the regulator’s capabilities in monitoring fixed telecoms network competition. Proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act will give the watchdog new regulatory instruments which ACM said will help to ‘ensure that parties wishing to become active in the telecom market have access to a fixed telecom network’, adding that the development ‘contributes to better functioning markets, lower prices, more innovation and better services for people and companies’. ACM board member Manon Leijten stated that ‘the new legislation will give [ACM] more opportunities to give telecom providers without their own network access to a fixed network, if this is necessary for the market to function properly’’

On 17 March 2020 the Netherlands’ apex administrative law court the Trade & Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven, CBb) overturned ACM’s 2018 Wholesale Fixed Access market analysis which had mandated incumbent PSTN operator KPN and cableco VodafoneZiggo to provide wholesale access to their fixed networks. Due to the CBb’s ruling VodafoneZiggo withdrew its wholesale network access offer, while KPN continued to provide a range of wholesale fibre and copper access options but has discontinued certain additional wholesale offers imposed in the annulled ACM decision. Consequently, ACM says it is examining ‘whether the position of providers without their own network is sufficiently secured’.

ACM’s latest statement added that it ‘sees risks to competition in the fixed telecom market if telecom providers without their own network do not gain access to the KPN and VodafoneZiggo networks on reasonable terms [and it] therefore closely follows the developments in the market and explores the various options in the Telecommunications Act and the Competition Act to intervene if services for consumers and companies deteriorate due to a lack of competition.’