Belgian regulators lay out plans for open fibre and cable networks

Belgian network operators including Proximus and cable operators Telenet and Brutélé will be forced to open up their networks to rival broadband and TV providers, and to offer broadband as a standalone product following a market assessment by the country’s principal regulators.

The four regulators that form the Conference of Media and Telecom Regulators (CRC) – the BIPT, CSA, Medianrat and Vlaamse Regulator Voor de Media – have proposed that consumers should be allowed to purchase internet-only products, while telco Proximus will be forced to open up its new €3 billion fibre network to rival operators, something that CEO Dominique Leroy previously said would threaten the future of the investment.

Wholesale prices that alternative providers must pay to operators meanwhile are set to fall significantly, with the rate being based on cost rather than a proportion of the retail price charged by the network provider.

The market survey also concluded that Telenet and Brutélé exercised a dominant position in the TV distribution market in their respective zones of coverage. It said that the TV distribution market was characterised by significant barriers to entry in the form of a high initial investment required to duplicate the local access network, created at a time when the operators were monopolists in their regions. It said that cable operators were also in a position to implement a wide range of measures designed specifically to lock out competition.

The regulators said that Telenet and Brutélé must provide access to their digital and analogue TV platforms, enabling rivals to commercialise services that are “entirely their own” with the ability to install modems, set-tops, interfaces and conditional access systems in the case of digital services. However, alternative providers will only have access to commercialise analogue services in cases where they also purchase access to commercialise digital services.

The two will not be obliged to provide access to analogue services in areas where analogue has been shut down.

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