Swedish Regulator Wants to Unbundle Fiber Access

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Swedish incumbent TeliaSonera will have to open up its fiber network to competitors, according to a new proposal from local telecommunications regulator PTS (Post och Telestyrelsen).

PTS hopes the proposal to unbundle, or separate ownership of fiber infrastructure and service delivery, will lead to more operators offering services and increased competition, which in turn will lead to lower costs for consumers, according to a statement issued on Thursday.

It will now let operators, the local competition authority and the European Commission make their voices heard, and then make a final decision during the second quarter if all goes according to plan, said David Troëng, director of the competition department at PTS.

Unbundling fiber access could prove to be a mixed blessing for consumers, according to according to Oliver Johnson, CEO at market research company Point Topic.

If the fiber is already in the ground it could lead to greater competition and lower prices -- but new rules could also lead to a slower build out of new fiber, if the builder doesn't get some measure of exclusivity and a chance to get a return on its investment, he said.

In France a number operators have agreed on what seems to be a more pragmatic approach to sharing of fiber networks.

Numericable, Orange and SFR have signed an agreement setting out the conditions for sharing optical fiber cables they have installed in buildings, and also sharing fiber access in areas where they are currently deploying or soon plan to deploy their networks, they announced on Tuesday.

This agreement is open to all other operators who want to become involved, they said.

Residents in areas concerned will be able to choose fiber Internet access services from among the three operators as a result of the deal.

Operators working together would be the ideal solution, but some measures to ensure transparency would still have to be put in place to prevent cartels, according to Johnson.

In Sweden, 566,000 subscribers accessed the Internet using fiber in the third quarter. In France that number was only 65,125 subscribers, according to statistics from Point Topic.

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