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Telenet protests plan to regulate cable broadband access

TelenetLiberty Global-backed Belgian cable operator Telenet has filed an objection to a plan to impose new regulations on the country’s fixed internet access market.

Telenet said that the plan by the Belgian telecom and media regulators to regulate cable broadband access goes against the policy of the Belgian federal government and the European Commission to stimulate investment.

Regulator the BIPT has said that leading cable operators Telenet and Voo should provide separate broadband access to third-parties, putting them on the same footing as telecom operator Proximus.

According to Telenet, the BIPT has artificially split the Belgian broadband market on the basis of Proximus’ copper access network and the HFC networks of Telenet and Voo. It said that this artificial division undermined the principal of ‘significant market power’ and wrongfully used this principal to identify three ‘dominant’ operators.

The move to regulator cable broadband follows Belgium’s ‘cable resale’ in 2011, which allowed alternative providers to bring their own offering of television or television combined with broadband internet in Belgium over Telenet and Voo’s networks. The opportunity was only taken up by Mobistar – now Orange – three years later.

“Belgium is already the most regulated country in Europe for telecom. More regulation will simply act as a disincentive for operators to invest further in the expansion and modernization of their networks,” said Ann Caluwaerts, chief corporate affairs at Telenet.

“At a time when telecom operators need to invest hundreds of millions to offer consumers and businesses more and faster – mobile and fixed – internet connections, overregulation will simply be detrimental for consumers and the economy. No operator will want to invest millions in its network in the knowledge that the competition will be able to use that same network. In the long term, this will undermine the quality of the networks.”

Telenet submitted its views ahead of the deadline for consultation on the proposals. The EC will now also give its opinion ahead of a final decision by the BIPT.