Measures, such as further opening of all networks (including optical fibre), lowering the wholesale tariffs, new access conditions (e.g. “internet only”) and an incentive to invest in the white spots should further intensify competition in these markets.
The CRC (the Conference of telecommunications and media regulators, i.e. BIPT, the CSA, the Medienrat and the VRM) concludes that Proximus, Telenet, Brutélé and Nethys continue to have significant market power in the wholesale market, and must remain open to third parties requesting access. The regulators also require open access on the new fibre networks from Proximus.
“By allowing access to the networks of Proximus and the cable operators, the CRC creates a positive dynamic: users can choose among several providers and operators are encouraged to compete by lowering prices, improving their service quality and/or launching new services,” according to the CRC.
The decision reduces wholesale prices , in some cases by as much as 20%, starting from August 2018.
Moreover, access conditions are improved in a variety of ways: cable operators are obliged to give access to a stand-alone broadband service, without the television service; as a result it will be possible that new broadband-only offers emerge on the cable networks at the retail level. Under the earlier CRC decision, cable operators only had to provide access to a joint broadband and television resale offer; Proximus and the cable operators must provide quality of service guarantees at the wholesale level, enabling alternative operators to offer services tailored specifically to the needs of SMEs; and cable operators are also required to make it possible for alternative operators to provide voice telephony services via the regulated access. This should allow alternative operators.
The measures taken bij the CRC follow comments from the European Commission.
The regulator assessed the competitive conditions on the retail broadband and broadcasting markets. It found that the market shares are distributed among a limited number of operators and that prices are above competitive levels. The regulator concludes therefore that it is necessary to impose wholesale regulation on the main operators active in the market – Proximus, and the regional cable operators Telenet, Nethys and Brutélé (the two latter operate at retail level under the ‘VOO’ brand) – to tackle these competition problems.