Connectivity - Fiber network construction - Access to mobile networks



Published 03 June 2020
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Norwegian authorities have a number of initiatives to improve connectivity and access to high quality and affordable ecom services to all. These initiatives are important also to support infrastructure necessary for IoT and general connectivity.

The act on broadband network construction (bredbåndsutbyggingsloven) will enter into force 1 July 2020. This act is aimed at improving access to passive physical infrastructure, by way of providing access to information within defined deadlines and mechanisms for swift resolution of disputes. Use of co-location rights and access to ducts and pipes for providers of broadband access services should be greatly improved through the act. The act sets strict deadlines for network operators' response to information on existing physical infrastructure and planned projects. In addition to defining obligations on network operators, the act also imposes an obligation of real estate developers to establish infrastructure for internal cabling for all new construction projects as well as renovation projects requiring permit from municipal authorities. The ecom act is also amended to give Nkom the power to mandate shared use of internal cabling when duplication of the cabling would be difficult or entail inefficient use of society's resources.

To further support improved broadband connectivity, modestly defined as 30 mbits, the government has issued a number of initiative to finance construction of access networks in rural areas. The fund for municipal broadband access projects has been around for a while and the government is currently reviewing submission made to the public consultation of financing network operators' provision of access services to the unserved. The measures should be technology neutral, although some of the arguments used in the proposal seem to indicate that the authorities have fiber build out projects in mind. Financing consumer fiber access in remote rural areas would however in many instances be a waste of resources. Last mile may be better solved by mobile technology, from base stations or satellite. The government could make better use of the funds by financing a sound fiber infrastructure in the backbone and local networks. This applies in particular in areas where Telenor has announced decommissioning of copper and retiring copper based E1 lines (SDH) to move to Ethernet (IP) bearer technology. This shift has considerable effects for the topology of existing mobile network base station access options. Financing access to additional base station sites required for 5G built out would better serve the aim of general connectivity, than would financing last mile consumer access.

Another important element in the basis for general connectivity is mandated access right to the existing mobile network. Nkom has in its decision of 14 May 2020 strengthened the SMP obligations on Telenor in market 15. As expected, the primary concern is to support the continued construction of the third mobile network. National roaming at price regulation consisting of margin squeeze ban is the key remedy to assist ICE in the last phase of its build out. Nkom specifies that the time horizon of the current update to market 15 regulation will be the last for national roaming at regulated prices. MVNOs will continue to have access rights, also at margin squeeze ban. Nkom has concluded that the terms for resellers have been insufficient to support long term diversified end user offerings and is taking steps to improve access rights. Nkom is however very cautious not to make the conditions too attractive in relation to the more sustainable competition afforded by investments made to MVNO or MNO business. Nkom now makes it clear that the exclusivity requirement that Telenor may set is on the SIM level only and may not be tied to the trademark used. This will enable resellers to offer services on the basis of the networks of Telenor, Telia and ICE under the same brand, as long as the reseller is not in a position to unfairly offer the combined coverage of multiple networks under one single subscription. Clarification on migration process and duration will improve the attractiveness and predictability of selling customer portfolios, which will increase value and therefore also incentives to invest. Of great importance to general connectivity is that access for resale purpose will now include access to Telenor's solution for indoor coverage.