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Cable Europe calls on EC to reject Dutch watchdog’s market analysis

Cable industry body Cable Europe has called on the EC to reject a draft market analysis carried out by Dutch regulator the Autoriteit Comsument & Markt (ACM) that concluded that Liberty Global and Vodafone JV VodafoneZiggo holds “joint significant market power” with incumbent telco KPN.

Matthias Kurth

The ACM finding means that both KPN and VodafoneZiggo will have to provide wholesale access to their networks to third-party operators.

“This proposed intervention in the Dutch market is anachronistic and runs contrary to the consumer interest.  My first reaction is one of astonishment.  The Dutch market is highly competitive and is often cited as best in class by international observers.  It scores high on the Commission Digital Economy and Society Index,” said Cable Europe chairman Matthias Kurth.

Kurth said that Dutch consumers have the choice between two “very fast broadband services practically everywhere in the country” in a market that is “extremely dynamic and characterised by innovation, quality of service and affordable prices”. KPN currently provides a commercial wholesale access offer.

“Imposing onerous regulation using the concept of joint significant market power in a market with these characteristics will set a negative precedent in Europe. Regulatory intervention comes with risks which are often difficult to gauge in advance. The negative consequences of this proposed regulation will outweigh any marginal improvements the regulator is seeking to achieve. I hope the Commission will examine this analysis with great care and conclude that the Dutch market and its citizens already benefit from effective competition,” said Kurth.

Cable Europe’s intervention follows the ACM’s submission of a revised draft of the market analysis – which was originally published in February – to the Commission.

The ACM found that KPN and VodafoneZiggo had similar market share and have an incentive to collude tacitly to restrict wholesale access to alternative operators, and that infrastructure-based competitors are likely to face too high a barrier to entry. It concluded that obligations should be imposed on VodafoneZiggo to open up its network for the first time.

The revised draft followed submissions by interested parties, including KPN, VodafoneZiggo and rival operators.