Sweden’s National Post & Telecom Agency (PTS) has invited market participants to comment on its final draft decisions on regulating the newly redefined wholesale markets for ‘local and central access’ – which include local loop unbundling (LLU) and bitstream access – with a submission deadline of 24 November 2014. Having implemented its third consultation on the relevant markets, the watchdog proposes relaxation of broadband regulation, primarily due to positive competitive developments, but also due to new tools becoming available through legislative changes and new European Commission (EC) recommendations issued earlier this month, in line with which the PTS adapted its draft decisions. Specifically, the PTS proposes that regulation is fully repealed in market ‘3b’ (‘central access’ – which corresponds to the previous market ‘5’ for bitstream access), while also proposing that price regulation on fibre-based access is loosened in market ‘3a’ (‘local access’ – corresponding to the previous market ‘4’ for wholesale physical network infrastructure access or ‘natinfrastrukturtilltrade’ – including LLU).
In the market for local access (3a) the PTS proposes:
• price regulation on fibre is eased from 1 December 2016, when former monopoly fixed line provider TeliaSonera is expected to have implemented an enhanced non-discrimination obligation (EOI – Equivalence of Input);
• in economic terms, alternative operators are defined as ‘equally effective’ as TeliaSonera (without adjustment for economies of scale);
• new ducting obligations are imposed on TeliaSonera (in light of many consultation responses highlighting this need), enabling other operators to use TeliaSonera’s ducting and construct new fibre at significantly lower cost;
• local virtual access to copper-based network infrastructure is introduced as an obligation on TeliaSonera, to enable altnets to operate in the retail fixed broadband market in situations where physical copper access ‘is no longer possible’.
In the market for central access (3b) the watchdog proposes:
• the market for central access (including bitstream) should not be regulated, noting that there is a competitive market and that TeliaSonera no longer has the status of a dominant player, while also noting that the market for local access (3a) does introduce an alternative obligation on virtual access (see above).