I have been repeatedly stressing on the importance of competition as a means to ensure not only universal service
and access to telecommunications but also sustained growth of the telecommunications sector. Even in situations where there is platform competition, due attention needs to be paid to competition is copper line access networks.
As reported in a news item
“Access regulation remains a necessity in the Netherlands to ensure effective competition between fixed networks, according to a report from Ecorys for Tele2. Most EU countries have just one national access network, based on copper. Regulation is aimed at creating a ‘ladder of investment’, providing alternative operators various ways to deliver services. The tariffs and conditions should be structured in such a way to encourage alternative operators to invest in their own networks and equipment, allowing them to differentiate their offering, according to the report. The last step on the ladder is deploying a competitive local loop.
In the Netherlands, the country benefits from DSL, cable and FTTH infrastructure for broadband. The roll-out of fibre will mean an eventual end to the use of the copper network. The telecom regulator has always found that “two is not enough” with the copper and cable networks and supported third-party providers with wholesale access regulation. The report concludes that access regulation will remain necessary to support this in future and during the transition to fibre. “
For the market to remain competitive, competition on copper must continue, and the position of alternative DSL providers such as Tele2 and Online must be protected. This should include access to a regulated virtual local access service and a continuation of subloop unbundling.
Competition in last mile connectivity is particularly important in developing countries like India where platform competition is very limited. The Indian situation is that unbundling is not mandated and has not taken place and 3G wireless services are largely unavailable in rural and remote areas. USOF India’s wireless broadband scheme that would have introduced competitive provision of the same in rural areas was criticized by the regulator as being premature and in conflict with 3G roll out obligations and never took off. This is one of the major reasons for the minimal wire line broadband penetration in India.