Geographic Segmentation of Broadband Markets: Appropriate Differentiation or Risk to a Single EU Market?
Until recently, wholesale broadband markets have usually been considered to have a national scope, with some exceptions associated with the existence of different incumbent fixed operators in different geographic areas, like the Hull area in the UK. The development of local loop unbundling and the deployment of alternative infrastructures to provide telecommunication services, such as cable, have changed the competitive landscape in certain areas. This has resulted in a higher degree of heterogeneity in the competitive conditions observed in wholesale broadband markets across geographic areas, which has led some regulators, like Ofcom and ANACOM, to define sub-national geographic markets, imposing obligations only in those markets were significant market power operators have been identified. In other cases, like in Austria, the regulator has opted for defining a single national market but imposing differentiated remedies to take account of the heterogeneity in the competitive conditions observed in different geographic areas. Based upon this recent experience in the context of wholesale broadband markets, this paper aims to provide insights on the main issues associated with the implementation of the analysis of geographic markets and its consistency with the European Commission's objective of developing a single EU telecommunications market.