ANACOM conducts a study on the evolution of NGA

ANACOM - Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações has conducted a study on the evolution of NGA where, based on the examination of 14 international case studies, it appears evident that the most salient features in the deployment of NGA are related to the role of the state, to the intervention of regulators and to the strategy pursued by operators.

In Portugal, the situation has been characterized by a clear dynamism among operators, based on determined and consistent regulatory action and state incentives for the development of NGA. 

The role of the state in light of the examined case studies, is essentially based on two components: firstly on ensuring transparent legislation that promotes investment in NGA throughout the national territory, while at the same time safeguarding a return for operators and conditions for sustainable competition; and secondly on active participation in the deployment of NGA, both through investment subsidies and by investing directly, particularly in rural and more remote regions, where the business plan carries more risk and future competition based on NGA will be more difficult to achieve. 

As regards the activity carried out by regulatory authorities, especially in the EU, this ensures, through a transparent, stable and predictable regulatory environment stemming from application of the EU framework and the market analysis process, an appropriate framework for investment across the national territory and to develop a healthy competition.

In Portugal, the following aspects of ANACOM's activity are highlighted, undertaken with a view to contributing to the elimination and reduction of vertical and horizontal barriers to NGA deployment and to ensuring appropriate conditions for migration from traditional networks to NGA networks:

a) The pioneering role of the reference ducts access offer determined by ANACOM, which has served as an example, at a worldwide level, of an offer which facilitates investment in NGA;
b) ANACOM's continued role of providing advice to the government with regard to various measures which maintain a transparent and predictable climate which is conducive to investment;
c) The development of market analyses;
d) Conducting public consultations, specifically the consultation launched in June 2008 on the regulatory approach to NGA;
e) The definition of technical specifications and revision of wholesale reference offers;
f) Definition of the format for the provision of CIS elements and launch of an international public tender for the development of this system.

Nevertheless, there are a number of challenges faced by ANACOM and by most regulators, related to the achievement of a balance between promoting investment in rural and remote areas and opening up networks in these areas; related to the sufficiency or otherwise of ex post regulation to deter anti-competitive behaviour; the implementation and ongoing oversight of possible wholesale obligations on markets related to NGA; analysis of whether or not vertical functional separation solutions are needed to facilitate the development of NGA; the implementation of infrastructure record systems; a range of issues arising from the widespread provision of bundled offers (analysis of predatory practices, relevant costs, SMP leverage in adjacent markets), and issues associated with net neutrality.

With regard to the strategies followed by the operators, investment seems to focus, both in Portugal and internationally and in a context of rapidly changing needs of users, on urban centres, where competition is possible and where, in many cases it is already a reality, both on the initiative of the incumbent and due to the availability of retail offers with higher speeds by competing providers.
In terms of overall results, in general, the combination of government initiatives and regulatory measures undertaken in Portugal has driven operator investments, whereby the number of households cabled with high-speed access already exceeds four million (70% with EuroDOCSIS 3.0 or equivalent and the remaining 30% with optical fibre).

According to data from the FTTH Council Europe with reference to the first half of 2010, Portugal occupied 16th position in the ranking of European countries with highest FTTH penetration, reporting a penetration rate of around 1.4%.

According to forecasts from Heavy Reading, at the end of 2014, Portugal should be placed among the 12 European countries with the highest penetration rate in terms of households with FTTH. These predictions will fall short, seeing that in September, according to figures from ANACOM, the number of households cabled with fibre was reported at 1.4 million, with 3.4 million cabled households supported over EuroDOCSIS 3.0 or equivalent.

Even while, to date, the majority of investment has been focused on the most densely populated coastal regions, it is expected that NGA concessions awarded in rural areas will soon contribute to the national drive for digital inclusion.

It is expected that NGN will contribute to the creation of a significant number of skilled jobs in Portugal, in addition to temporary jobs associated with the infrastructure deployment phase.

It is also expected that there will be a significant reduction in energy consumption (by networks/equipment) leading to a reduction in CO2 emissions. According to estimates released by the International Telecommunication Union, the transition from traditional technologies to NGN increases network energy efficiency, contributing to a reduction in CO2, which at a global level could total 460 Mt by 2020 and 330 kg per user over a period of 15 years  at a European level.

In Portugal, PTC announced that with the full deployment of its fibre network, it expects that it will be possible to reduce energy consumption to half current levels.