The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) says its analysis of the broadband market found it to be competitive with no dominant players

Having concluded a lengthy investigation into the Dutch broadband market, this week the ACM has ruled that it will leave the wholesale broadband market unregulated.

The regulator’s investigation, which began in mid-2020, segregated the country into five geographical regions, based on these areas’ access to wholesale networks delivered by incumbent operator KPN and by Glaspoort, KPN’s fibre network joint venture with pension fund APG.

Currently, KPN and Glaspoort are the only two network operators to offer wholesale access to their network and do so on a voluntary basis.

In each of these five regions, the ACM sought to ascertain whether there was currently a dominant market player or whether one would emerge in the next five years based on retail market data.

The results suggested that market competition was healthy in each of the regions and that open access networks should expand to cover the entirety of the country within three years, ensuring a competitive future.

As such, the regulator said that no intervention would be necessary.

The ACM also ruled against Dutch ISP YouCa, which was separately seeking access to VodafoneZiggo’s network on a wholesale basis.

The preliminary decision is open for public comment until 4 September and will require approval from the European Commission.

The question as to whether the Dutch wholesale market should be regulated or not dates back to 2018, when the regulator announced its intention to impose itself on the market for the first time.

Until that point, only the incumbent operator KPN was offering its fixed broadband network to alternative ISPs on a wholesale basis. However, the ACM argued that VodafoneZiggo had grown to enjoy a comparably dominant market position to KPN and therefore should also open up its network to other providers.

Both VodafoneZiggo and KPN complained about the decision, arguing that the highly competitive Dutch market was functioning perfectly well without regulatory intervention.

The duo subsequently appealed against the ACM’s ruling, with a corporate appeals court finally overturning the regulator’s decision in 2020. The court’s ruling was largely based on the fact that the joint dominance of KPN and VodafoneZiggo had not been sufficiently established by the ACM in their market analysis.

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