EC Backs Ofcom Virtual Proposal

Commission accepts UK regulator's proposal to mandate virtual unbundling of BT's fiber networks

June 3, 2010

1 Min Read

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission has decided to accept, in view of the specific circumstances of the case, the proposal of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom to oblige telecoms operator BT to provide 'virtual' access to its optical fibre infrastructure to alternative operators. Ofcom’s proposal will allow product differentiation and innovation similar to that possible through physical local loop unbundling. Ofcom’s plans will maintain competition on UK broadband markets following the roll-out of next generation access (NGA) networks by allowing alternative operators to offer competitive broadband services on these networks. However, the Commission underlined that this should only be a transitional measure and that full fibre unbundling should be imposed as soon as technically and economically possible.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "In this specific instance, virtual unbundling seems the best option to safeguard competition and enable consumers to benefit from a wider range of services provided over next generation fibre infrastructure. However, this interim solution is not a long term alternative to physical fibre unbundling, which should be imposed as soon as possible."

The Commission decision concerns UK markets for wholesale local access (i.e. access to the local loop) and wholesale broadband access. Wholesale broadband access (or bitstream access) is, together with access to the unbundled local loop, a way for alternative operators to enter the retail market.

European Commission

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