The Flemish government, spurred by Innovation Minister Philippe Muyters, announced at the beginning of October 2017 that it would like to fully equip Flanders with a fibre optic network and that, if necessary, a new network operator would be set up. The total cost is estimated at 3 billion euros, part of which would be paid by the Flemish government.
The fibre optic network would be rolled out by energy supplier Fluvius, the organisation formed by the merger of Eandis and Infrax. As the decision to set up a new public company or to allocate the roll-out of fibre optic to Fluvius will have far-reaching consequences on the business telecom market, we have assembled our thoughts on the issue. They are detailed in the Beltug Position “Een nieuw glasvezelnetwerk van de overheid voor Vlaanderen? Overwegingen van de bedrijfsmarkt.” (available in Dutch only).
- Beltug agrees with the government’s starting point that a commercial telecom operator that implements a fibre optic network will show little regard for un- or less profitable regions.
- Beltug is concerned that the new fibre operator will primarily focus on those zones that are already being served with a fibre offering, so that the economically less interesting regions will be underserved with fibre for even longer.
- The decision can be disruptive to the market. A possible delay or even discontinuation of the current fibre initiatives would be detrimental. For Beltug, it is particularly important that the current drive remains secure when expanding the fibre solutions.
- How will cost transparency be guaranteed when both wholesale and additional services are combined by Fluvius?
- Cross -subsidisation impacting energy tariffs must be strongly avoided in the allocation of the contract to Fluvius.
- The priorities for the roll-out of the fibre network cannot be determined based on a planned expansion or upgrade of the electricity or gas network.
- It is unacceptable that excavation works be carried out for the upgrading of the electricity or gas network, and that the surface then be reclosed without laying fibre. An efficient model that allows telecom operators to lay fibre optics for Eandis / Infrax excavation works is necessary, with reasonable conditions for all parties.
- A decent regulatory framework for the supply of fibre networks in the business market must be developed. A thorough B2B market analysis by the Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunication (BIPT) is required. Beltug is pleased to hear that the BIPT will soon be coming out with concrete plans. Healthy competition and a high-quality offer of infrastructure and services are some of the main concerns of business users.