A draft consultation from the European Commission is recommending that new entrants to high-speed broadband services should be allowed to use the cable ducts of telecom operators who hold significant market power (SMP) to help foster the roll out of new services. This comes in recognition that a large amount of costs (up to 80%) involved with the roll out of a next generation network is civil works such as digging up the roads to lay cables and new ducts. By encouraging duct sharing, the costs to new entrants should be significantly reduced and therefore will improve the likelyhood of more providers looking into deploying services, and increasing the choice to end users.
Further to duct sharing, the Commission also recommend that in full fibre to the home (FTTH) deployments, where ducts cannot be accessed or it is economically unviable for other operators to deploy fibre, sharing of dark (unlit) fibre should occur. This is in many ways equivalent to how local loop unbundling (LLU) works at the moment with the sharing of the local copper access network.
"The deployment of new fibre-networks will shape the competitive conditions of the future. We need an appropriate framework to give European companies fair access to the new networks. We want national rules that will not only encourage the necessary substantial investment in fibre investment but also strengthen broadband competition."Neelie Kroes, EU Competition Commiessioner
The consultation is open until 14th November 2008, looking to finalise and adopt the proposal in 2009.