BRUSSELS -- The European Commission has decided to further investigate whether the Polish telecoms regulator, UKE, should allow the incumbent Polish telecoms operator, Telekomunikacja Polska (TP) to give alternative operators only limited access to its future fibre based networks so they can also offer high-speed Internet. The Commission has serious doubts whether UKE's decision not to impose cost-oriented prices for access to these networks contravenes EU telecoms rules. In the Commission's view, UKE's decision could have a negative effect on competition and the future development of fibre networks. Conditions for access to TP's fibre network will determine whether, and at what price, alternative operators, including those established in other Member States, will be able to provide telecoms services to Polish consumers. The Commission has therefore suspended UKE's plans and started a 3 month investigation.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President, said: "We need to avoid fibre-based broadband monopolies. This investigation will examine whether the right balance exists between investment incentives and protection of a level playing field in Poland."
UKE proposes not to regulate the prices which TP will charge to alternative operators pay to access its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network, because it wants to encourage the main operator to roll out such networks in Poland. Under the Commission's Recommendation on Next Generation Access Networks (seeMEMO/10/424), a telecom regulator can exceptionally decide not to regulate the price of access to the network of dominant operator(s) if it can show that alternative operators can get such access on competitive terms, which is likely to result in effective retail competition. Such competitive terms may be ensured, for example, by functional separation or similar arrangements guaranteeing no favourable treatment to the retail arm of the incumbent as opposed to the alternative operators.
The Commission has issued this serious doubts letter because it needs further proof from UKE that the proposed "non-discrimination" remedies are indeed sufficient to ensure equivalence of access to TP's fibre-to-the-home network, and hence to justify the non imposition of cost orientation access prices.