Discussion Papers

Lorenz Nett, Ulrich Stumpf

Symmetric regulation in line with the new regulatory framework of the European Union

No. 350/February 2011

(full version only available in German)


The shared usage of network elements decreases network roll out costs significantly. Thus, infrastructure sharing promotes a faster roll out of NGA networks to enable high speed broadband access. Network roll-out costs are not only reduced by access to wholesale fibre network elements but also by a common usage of civil engineering (e.g. ducts and holes) offered by suppliers of public services (water, electricity, sewage disposal etc.). However, wholesale elements of NGA networks as well as civil engineering are not only owned by the former fixed network incumbent but also by alternative operators as well as public utilities.

The German Telecommunications Act focuses on (asymmetric) regulation of operators with Significant Market Power. Only operators with Significant Market Power, usually the incumbent telecoms operator, face comprehensive wholesale access obligations. The aim of the study is to consider to what extent symmetric regulation should complement asymmetric regulation to promote an efficient roll out of broadband access infrastructure. According to the article 12 of the new European Framework Directive it is possible to impose symmetric access obligations on network operators and property rights owners. However, any obligation which may comprise a shared usage of building, access to buildings, inhouse cabling, civil engineering like ducts, masts, antenna, towers and distribution points has to be proportionate and reasonable. The Bundesnetzagentur will be enabled to impose such symmetric obligation following the current draft of the new German Telecommunication Act. Network roll-out cost structures indicate that fibre networks within a building have to be deemed as essential facilities or bottlenecks. Symmetric access obligations to inhouse cabling has already been imposed in several European countries. France was among the first European countries which imposed symmetric access obligations for inhouse cable. This study describes the regulatory framework for inhouse cabling in France and and several other European countries. Based on the international experience, the study provides a number of suggestions whether and how to implement access to inhouse cabling in Germany.

Discussion Paper is available for download.

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