The regulatory indecision that still remains in the New Generation networks is a factor impeding investments in fiber optics, operators today defended again in a debate on regulation that took place at the APDC Congress.
«There is a need for more strategic regulation on this issue, which exists in other countries», defended Filipa Carvalho, of Sonaecom, in an idea that was supported by the various operators present on the panel. The problems of economic viability of network investments and the level of knowledge and conditions to invest, which is not the same for all operators, were also, once again, on the table.
José Ferrari Careto, Anacom administrator, was the first to take the floor, noting that today no operator is prevented from making investments in fiber optic networks. «We realize that the market wants to know the regulatory framework, which is an important factor in planning investments», he admits, but recalls that «there were countries where the investment started before a regulatory decision», says the administrator of the market regulator .
Defending that «we are not yet on the critical path», Ferrari Careto guarantees, however, that there will be a decision in the short term, but recalls that this is a complex, structural dossier, in which the international experience is reduced, and that is why it should not be decided with lightness. «The European Commission only presented in September a draft and the overwhelming majority of European regulators have not yet made a decision «, he justifies.
The Anacom administrator also recalls that «there is a lot of value to be extracted from current networks. These networks in size and characteristics have excellent capabilities to support the demands placed on them» and denies a temptation to associate the topic of energy efficiency and NGNs because «It is not NGN that is preventing the development of smart grids at the energy level, this assumption is dangerous».
«There are two things that the regulator cannot do. One is to compel investment – we can create conditions to facilitate investment, but we cannot oblige any operator to invest. The other issue is that Anacom cannot regulate demand, only supply» , also defends Ferrari Careto. «We have to live with the market that exists […] I am convinced that with this regulatory model applied to other European countries, the level of broadband penetration would be higher «, he explains, to justify the criticisms that often arise about the weak development of fixed broadband in Portugal, stating that this scenario it also applies to NGNs.
The difficulty in accessing ducts was highlighted by all operators. Despite the decision that exists, this is not enforced in practice. Carlos Correia, from Vodafone, stressed that the difference in conditions makes investment difficult and returned to defend a shared investment in NGNs.
Filipa Carvalho, from Sonaecom, opted to remember that NGNs are an inevitability. «They will happen because the Government wants, customers demand and operators want», he underlines, reason why he defends the intervention of the Government and the sectorial regulator in terms of legislative incentives, but also in the provision of infrastructures that exist in the country and that they are «hidden» and are not being used for this «purpose».
Regarding economic conditions, Filipa Carvalho again highlights the issues of economic viability. «So far, what makes sense is that there is only one network, whether built by an operator and shared by all or with shared investment», he says.
Paulo Neves, from Oni, does the accounting for the investment and estimates that investments of 2 to 3 billion euros are necessary for the creation of a fiber optic network and that if there are three networks it is 9 billion euros, which makes it the most expensive service for the customer and the most difficult to monetize, considering that the market is not unlimited.
«There is no advantage for the customer to have multiple networks arriving at his home. The investment should be in services […] or the customer has to pay investments in the network in duplicate or in triplicate «, he warns, recalling that the consortium model makes more sense.