Nkom proposes updated legislation relating to Telenor’s copper network shutdown plans

24 Nov 2021

Norway’s National Communications Authority (Nasjonal kommunikasjonsmyndighet, Nkom) has unveiled proposed changes to legislation related to fixed line incumbent Telenor Norge’s planned switch-off of its legacy copper network. With the watchdog claiming its proposals are designed to ensure competition in the fixed broadband sector during the transition to more modern access technologies, it has set a deadline of 6 December 2021 for comments from interested parties.

In a press release regarding the matter, Nkom noted that it has already directed Telenor to maintain access to its copper infrastructure until September 2025. Under existing regulations, the watchdog notes, the operator does have scope to close its copper network before September 2025 where it encounters matters beyond its control, for example where a construction project by another company requires existing copper lines to be removed or rerouted. However, according to the regulator, the current system ‘partly undermines’ the purpose behind its existing copper shutdown rules, with Nkom’s competition department director, Hans Jorgen Enger, saying: ‘The extent of copper closures appears to be high, and closures are notified to Telenor’s wholesale customers with short deadlines and little information … We therefore believe that the current regulation related to “matters beyond Telenor’s control”, does not sufficiently address the consideration of predictable access to the copper network for companies that buy and resell access to Telenor’s copper network to its own.’

As such, the newly-proposed regulation stresses that Telenor has a duty to maintain wholesale customers’ access, even in those instances where the copper network owner encounters issues outside of its control. Meanwhile, Nkom has said it will continue to allow Telenor freedom of choice with regards to what technologies can be offered in place of the legacy copper infrastructure, with these including both fibre-based broadband and fixed wireless broadband. Finally, the watchdog has said its new proposals emphasise that wholesale customers should be more involved in the copper network shutdown process and be provided with ‘sufficient and timely’ information.