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SECTOR NEWS: AMO starts an investigation in the field of building new optical networks on power line poles and access to them

sectoral investigation - optical networks
sectoral investigation - optical networks

The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic (AMO) has started a sectoral investigation, within which it will assess the situation in the field of building new optical networks on power line poles and the access to them in the territory of the Slovak Republic.

In many locations, such a construction has been currently underway or planned. Along with benefits in the form of quality and new possibilities in the field of telecommunication and electronic services, there arise also questions on what conditions (commercial, especially price) these services will be accessible to consumers. Therefore, the main aim of AMO is to ensure the space for intensive competition on the market. Only that can generate the best possible conditions for consumers, in terms of either quality or price.

Slovakia currently belongs to the first half of the EU countries with a cheaper access to the Internet and there is a number of Internet providers operating on the market. In the future, the mentioned optical networks may change the market. They have a great potential to become an intensively used alternative for Internet connection and can significantly affect the market structure at the wholesale and retail level. However, according to indications, some changes so far may not have a positive impact on the market structure, and could even be problematic from the point of view of violating competition rules.

As an example, we can cite several classic practices, which are unacceptable in the field of ​​access to infrastructure (or to the network) and in the past were the subject of decisions by the European Commission, EU courts and competition institutions of EU Member States. For example, the absolute non-allowance/refusal of access to the infrastructure/network (refusal to deal/supply) is considered as unacceptable, as well as the "sophisticated" equivalent of this practice, namely the outwardly existing possibility of access, but under conditions that are factually and economically unacceptable by commercial partners, while in real they make the access impossible (constructive refusal to deal/supply). Likewise, discrimination and allowing the access only to selected entities is also unacceptable, as it can de facto lead to the replacement of existing ones with new ones, in some cases even by economically related market entities. Negative impacts can be intensified if, for example, a smaller number of large entities replaces a larger number of smaller entities.

Thus, AMO will fully use its legal competences and will closely monitor the development of situation in the field. During the sectoral investigation, it will primarily focus on obtaining information regarding the conditions of access to already built optical networks and to the infrastructure on which new ones are being built. The aim of AMO is to ensure that operators have the access to infrastructure and newly built networks under fair, reasonable, transparent and non-discriminatory conditions. This is crucial in the favour of intensive competition that generates the lowest prices, qualitative service and the choice options for the consumer.

If AMO, during the sectoral investigation, acquires a suspicion that the Act on Protection of Competition has been violated, it will use all legal options to investigate its findings, including the imposition of sanctions or obligations in order to protect competition.