Broadband boost for Norway's fibre as watchdog makes Telenor open up its network

Norway's telecoms regulator has brought in regulations meaning that the country's biggest telco will have to offer local-loop unbundling for its fibre access network as well as its copper.

Competitors of Telenor, Norway's biggest telco, will soon get access to the company's fibre network.

On Monday NPT, Norway's telecoms watchdog, issued regulations mandating that Telenor must offer local-loop unbundling (LLU) for its wholesale fibre network, in the same way as it does for its copper lines.

Having looked into the fibre unbundling in 2009, NPT decided that passing any regulation wasn't appropriate, as the extent of Telenor's fibre network rollout was very limited at the time.

Now, Telenor is extending its fibre footprint, both through its own rollout, and by acquiring competitors. This week, however, the regulator said Telenor now has a strong position in the broadband market, it expects the telco's fibre development to continue, and now believes regulation is necessary.

However, NPT has not stipulated the maximum price Telenor can charge its competitors for LLU. With a wider range of communications technologies now available, increased competition between fibre operators, and between over-the-top service providers, the watchdog doesn't believe it's necessary to regulate fibre LLU prices in order to ensure healthy competition in the market.

"The considerations regarding these regulations are twofold," Irene Åmot, department director at NPT, told ZDNet. "It is not economically feasible [for ISPs] to compete by duplicating fibre infrastructure to each and every building. The next-best alternative is to stimulate competition at the service level instead. At the same time, we want to pave the way for the development more fibre in Norway," she added.

"We don't want too harsh price regulation, as that could inhibit Telenor's development of fibre access networks in Norway. However, we are prohibiting price discrimination in this market, so any competitor won't pay more than Telenor's own retail business units," Åmot concluded.

As such, the regulator hopes to ensure healthy competition in the broadband market in Norway going forward, even as end users' transition to fibre is at an early stage in the country.

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