The targeted consultation took place between 15 February 2019 and 10 May 2019. The objective of the consultation was to gather input to evaluate the recommendation as it currently applies, and to assess the need for amendments in view of regulatory and market developments.

Objectives of the consultation

Article 64 (1) of the European Electronic Communications Code requires that the Commission shall review the current Recommendation on Relevant Markets by 21 December 2020 and regularly thereafter.

The targeted public consultation on the Review of the Recommendation on Relevant Markets gathered input to help evaluate the currently applicable recommendation and assess to what extent amendments are needed in view of the new regulatory framework and market developments. The consultation was in particular aimed at evaluating if the markets currently listed as susceptible to ex-ante regulation should remain in that list or if competition has developed in those markets to a degree that they do no longer require ex-ante regulatory intervention and if there is a need to include other markets into the list. 

Who replied to the consultation?

In the course of the consultation 43 replies were received. Both umbrella organisations and individual stakeholders contributed. Stakeholders' participation had a strong prevalence of affected operators/industry, however there were also contributions from National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), individuals as well as business/users associations. Respondents from 15 EU Member States replied to the consultation. The chart below shows the percentage of responses presented by the type of respondents and the geographic coverage.

The contributions from the stakeholders who gave their consent to publication are available below. This report does not include upcoming response of the Body of European Regulators (BEREC) to this public consultation. It will be officially transmitted to the Commission after being approved by the Board of Regulators. The BEREC response will be included in the Synopsis report.

Preliminary trends observed in the replies

This analysis does not represent the official position of the Commission and its services, and does not bind the Commission in relation to future proposals in this respect.

Without prejudice to the in-depth analysis of the replies, we can observe the following overall trends:

A majority of the responses clearly point out that the electronic communications sector is characterised by rapid and significant technological changes, together with increasing competition and the emergence of new type of competitors and new technological features. According to respondents, the main trends to take into account in the ongoing process of the review of the Recommendation on relevant markets are:

  1. the existence and technological improvements of different types of networks based on copper, fibre (FTTP/FTTC), cable, LTE,  forward-looking 5G and Fixed-Wireless Access as well as the related migration from copper to high speed capacity broadband;
  2. the increasing deployment of NGA access infrastructures;
  3. the importance of bundling strategies applied by operators;
  4. the question of fixed-mobile convergence;
  5. increasing use of OTT services;
  6.  more dynamic platform competition.

The majority of the respondents (of which most are operators) consider that the scope of termination markets should not change. There is no consensus among respondents whether these markets should be removed from the list of markets susceptible to ex ante regulation and whether the introduction of the Eurorate removes the need for remedies other than price control.

While most respondents agree that the scope of market for wholesale local access provided at a fixed location and market for wholesale central access provided at a fixed location for mass-market products does not need to change, they are divided regarding the issue of combining the current markets into one wholesale access market. SMP operators generally argue for merging the markets due to the interchangeable capabilities of (VULA) access products at different network levels, whereas access seekers express a continued need for differentiated local and central access products and for physical unbundling.

As regards the market for wholesale high-quality access provided at a fixed location, the responses are not convergent on whether the market should be removed from the list. Some of the respondents who believe that the market should continue to be listed are further of the view that it should be expanded to dark fibre both for mobile backhaul in the context of 5G and business connectivity.

The access to physical infrastructure is considered by all respondents as a remedy, which has proved to enhance access conditions. Many respondents point to the positive effects of the 2014 Broadband Cost Reduction Directive and the Code which allow diverse and novel possibilities for intervention on civil/infrastructure (e.g. in house wiring, passive physical infrastructure), especially in terms of symmetric non-SMP access type of regulation.  Most of the responses arrive at the conclusion that no new, nor additional wholesale market should be defined for the purpose of ex-ante SMP regulation for similar types of accesses. Many of them consider more appropriate to regulate this market at the level of Member states, based on specific national circumstances. In particular, some operators worry about several layers of remedies imposed on different markets while others have concerns about losing other forms of wholesale access as a result of undue focus on civil infrastructure access.

On the question regarding the possibility that other markets should be included in the revised Recommendation, the majority of stakeholders consider that no new markets should be added to the list of relevant markets susceptible of ex-ante regulation.

As regards transnational markets the vast majority of stakeholders consider there is no need to identify transnational markets in the revised Recommendation. Furthermore, some stakeholders refer to Article 65 of the New Electronic Code, which provides the procedure for the identification of translational markets, and they deem the provision sufficient to address this topic.

Next steps

The Commission is now carrying out an in-depth analysis of the replies received to the targeted consultation. A synopsis report will be published in due course. The results will feed into the study that the Commission will commission in the context of this review of the Recommendation as well as into the Recommendation and the connected Explanatory note.