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TKK landmark decision: general framework for optical fiber network expansion specified

Public awareness about the importance of high-speed, high-capacity broadband communication networks has been growing over the past few years. In this context, the expansion of optical fiber networks is of major importance. In contrast to the technologies used in the past, optical fiber networks allow for nearly unlimited transmission rates while being utterly insensitive to external sources of interference. In a decision on May 3, 2010 the Telecom-Control Commission (TKK) specified in greater detail the general framework for the expansion of broadband communication networks in Austria. This decision is now being publicly reviewed and scheduled to become final in summer 2010 after the statements received have been taken into account.

Secure investments for operators and enhanced benefit for end users

“This landmark decision makes things more transparent for all the parties involved. It will spur interest in investments and inspire further plans. Operators will get fresh impetus irrespective of the activities they are currently engaged in: for Telekom Austria and other potential investors, investments in optical fiber network expansion will become more attractive, while for companies that continue to focus on local loop unbundling of the copper infrastructure, it will become possible to use from a central office a new transmission protocol offering higher performance, i.e. VDSL2, fulfilling a longstanding request,” Georg Serentschy, Managing Director of the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications, stated, explaining the crucial points of the decision.

TKK decision gets all operators on board

More specifically, the TKK decision on extended transparency and access obligations of Telekom Austria will improve the overall conditions for alternative operators to invest in optical fiber networks (fiber-to-the-curb, FTTC, and fiber-to-the-building, FTTB). According to the decision, Telekom Austria will be obliged to provide the information on its copper network required for planning these networks (e.g. position of switch exchanges and line length), which is still needed for bridging the last mile to end customers. Unless standard contract offers are available, Telekom Austria is required to engage in negotiations with the demanders to stipulate the conditions of such access to the unbundled local loop. Telekom Austria must additionally offer new wholesale services, such as access to ducts.
On the basis of the new decision, Telekom Austria itself will become more flexible in developing and realizing its FTTx optical fiber expansion plans, since new provisions governing the protection of other operators’ existing transmission systems from electromagnetic interference (crosstalk, XT) are defined. “Spectrum shaping”, i.e. only partial utilization of the available frequency spectrum, required to date, is no longer mandatory. Telekom Austria can now fully exploit the technological facilities of its transmission systems as long as it is ensured that alternative operators are provided some other means of protection.
Last but not least, with this current decision TKK provides alternative operators with the opportunity of offering their end users greater bandwidths than in the past via the existing copper wire network (i.e. VDSL2 from the central office, aka VDSL CO). Investments of alternative operators are additionally protected by the clause that entitles them to compensation payments for frustrated investments if Telekom Austria expands the optical fiber network in the same region later on.
The TKK draft concept of measures to be taken, which is under public review until June 2, 2010, can be viewed here: