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TKK landmark decision: general framework for broadband expansion defined

In a decision on September 6, 2010 the Telecom-Control Commission (TKK) defined the general framework for the expansion of broadband communication networks in Austria. The decision provides the telecommunications industry with important impetus to step up the expansion of broadband networks, including the deployment of optical fiber technology.  
The current decision was preceded by public consultation of a draft decision. The draft had awakened a great deal of interest, both within the telecommunications sector and outside the industry, which in turn generated valuable input for arriving at the present decision.  

TKK establishes secure investment conditions for investors and operators

The TKK’s landmark decision lays the foundation for future investments in the expansion of broadband networks. On the one hand, the decision creates incentives for potential investors, such as A1 Telekom, to invest in optical fiber networks (fiber to the curb, FTTC, and fiber to the building, FTTB). In addition, the TKK decision will make it possible for companies that continue to focus on local loop unbundling of the copper infrastructure to employ the VDSL2 transmission protocol offering higher performance, thereby fulfilling a longstanding request.

TKK requires A1 Telekom to maintain transparency and allow access

The TKK decision imposes on A1 Telekom extended transparency and access obligations that are specified in more detail. These requirements greatly improve the general framework for investments in optical fiber networks on the part of alternative operators. According to the decision, A1 Telekom will be obliged to provide any information required for planning the optical networks (e.g. position of switch exchanges and line length) on its copper network, which still needed for bridging the last mile to end customers. A1 Telekom is required to publish standardized contract offers listing the conditions for access to the copper local loop infrastructure after unbundling, in this way ensuring equal access for all interested parties without delay. A1 Telekom must additionally offer new wholesale services, such as access to cable ducts and optical fiber, which will considerably reduce the investment expenses (i.e. excavation costs) incurred to alternative operators.  

New provisions governing protection against electromagnetic interference

On the basis of the new decision, A1 Telekom itself will be granted more flexibility in developing and realizing its FTTC and FTTB 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. A1 Telekom can now fully exploit all technological options offered by its new infrastructures, as long as it is made sure that alternative operators are provided some other means of protection, i.e. through new wholesale services that would substitute the previous leasing of copper lines. With preconditions comparable to those applying to A1 Telekom, alternative investors in glass fiber expansion projects now enjoy the same advantage at the outset, ensuring a level playing field.  

Protection of alternative operators’ investments

Finally, the current TKK decision permits the use of VDSL CO (i.e. VDSL2 from the central office), providing alternative operators with the opportunity of directly offering their end users greater bandwidths than previously possible via the existing copper wire network. Investments of alternative operators in this technology are additionally protected by the clause that entitles them to compensation payments for frustrated investments in the event that A1 Telekom expands the optical fiber network in the same region later on. New regulations have been introduced that require such expansion plans and planning rounds to be announced in advance, which will additionally encourage the parties to explore potential cooperation.    

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