The economic moment is difficult for operators, who have increasingly costs to enter the business and in new areas, and a way to overcome investment difficulties can be the sharing of next generation networks in fixed and mobile.
The idea is transversal to several panels of the 20th APDC Communications Congress, although of course it is not shared by all players and even find strong opponents in some areas, namely in mobile and cable networks, but also in some fixed network operators.
In the panel dedicated to the theme of Regulation, the possibility of opening mobile networks for access sharing was raised again, as well as the sharing of access to the cable network, specifically from Zon, but the idea was eventually challenged by Francisco Silva, director of regulation and competition from Zon, who recalled that until now nobody has requested access to the cable.
«It is not easy to open the cable,» he said, explaining that there may even be a technical solution, but that it will be expensive, and then there must be a business model to pay for this investment. «It is an interesting topic to discuss, but in practice it is not capable of leading to practice», he stressed.
Conversely, Filipa Carvalho, legal and regulatory director at Optimus, highlighted the bet that Sonaecom has already made on sharing networks in the new generation, on fiber, where it is working with other operators. This responsible also defends that «the sharing is fundamental and that this must be extended to LTE […] must be included in the LTE licenses «, remembering that the cost of being in the market is increasing.
Without commenting on LTE network sharing, Cristina Perez, director of legal and regulatory affairs and secretary of the Vodafone Portugal Society, reminded the panel that in the past two years the company has fought for the creation of a single shared network in the new generation, or complementary shared single networks. But as it was not successful, the focus of regulation must now be on competition for services.
In this area, Cristina Perez argues that we must be «courageous, ambitious and creative», to paraphrase the speech of Secretary of State Paulo Campos, and poses the challenge that the regulatory models to be implemented are not confined to what exists but that allow greater control access and operation, offering more competitiveness, citing the examples of virtual access used in Austria and Holland. Alternatively, it is possible to opt for the clear separation of the retail and wholesale entities, with different shareholders, thus ensuring a more transparent way of reaching the market.
Even without making a clear statement in one way or another, Ferrari Careto, Anacom administrator, however reminds operators that network sharing is already possible today, because the law does not prevent it, but that care is needed when implementing this sharing in a regulatory manner. because it can create additional problems.
The virtues of network sharing were again mentioned in the panel of future networks by António Beato Teixeira, president of Alcatel-Lucent Portugal, who believes that there is great potential in next generation networks but that this can only be realized if there is cooperation between operators, which will allow more appealing services to be developed.
Fiber infrastructure sharing returns to debate
The sharing of infrastructures in new generation networks was once again debated in the most popular panel of the APDC Congress, without major news in the positions defended by the main players in the market.
Zeinal Bava encouraged the audience when he reacted to the topic by saying that the topic of sharing fiber optic infrastructures «is a train that left the station a long time ago». He also added that, with regard to this technology, PT has already invested in the wiring of one million houses and is preparing by the end of the year the fiber infrastructure of over 600 thousand houses. This is a network that «is not for sale or available to share with anyone», he defended.
Vodafone, Optimus and Oni also reiterated their positions, considering that the market has already demonstrated that it does not have the capacity to make viable more than a fixed communications network, as stressed Vodafone’s António Coimbra.
Xavier Martin, CEO of Oni, did not defend that it is not possible to secure more than one fiber optic network in the country, but underlined that any investment concentrated in the network is an investment that cannot be made in the contents and dynamization of the infrastructures .