ANACOM cuts access offer prices - ducts and poles

ANACOM has decided to implement a reduction in the monthly fees applied in the Reference Duct Access Offer (RDAO) and Reference Poles Access Offer (RPAO). According to the draft decision approved on 15 February, the maximum monthly fees applied under the RDAO will be reduced by 35%, alongside a 20% reduction of fees applied under the RPAO.

ANACOM's decision is based on evidence that action is needed on RDAO and RPAO pricing, in order to ensure cost orientation; the margins reported over recent years mean that the proposed reduction is appropriate and fully justified.

The intended reduction in the monthly fees (i.e. for the occupation of ducts and sub-ducts, under the RDAO and for fixing cables to poles under the RPAO), with retroactive effect from 15 February 2022, seeks to ensure that the wholesale offers in question comply in their entirety with the obligation which was imposed on MEO as a holder of significant market power in the respective wholesale market, ensuring the promotion of competition and the development and deployment of very high capacity networks.

The RDAO and RPAO have been key instruments in the promotion of sustained competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services, and in particular in promoting investment in high-capacity networks by alternative operators to MEO.

ANACOM's draft decision, following on from the regulatory measures imposed with regard to access to ducts and poles, contributes to a reduction in the cost of deploying high-capacity networks, so that, in areas where these networks do not exist, all operators enjoy similar conditions when investing in the development of their own infrastructure. In this way, ANACOM's draft decision contributes to sustained growth in coverage of the national territory by high-capacity networks of the different operators. This places Portugal among the EU27 Member States enjoying the highest levels of coverage by this type of network, even while there are still a number of dwellings not covered.

In this context, access to MEO's infrastructure (ducts and poles) continues to be of particular importance in the national market, with operators expanding coverage of their mobile and fixed networks to increasingly remote areas (with low population density and a greater challenge in terms of economic viability). This is reinforced by the recent allocation of rights of use of frequencies, specifically those associated with 5G, and by the fulfilment of associated coverage obligations. This expansion of networks to new areas of the country may result in operators making more intensive use of MEO's physical infrastructure, which is expansive and enjoys a high level of capillarity.

The Portuguese Government's projected launch of a public financing plan to support the installation of very high capacity fixed networks in “white areas” highlights the importance of network operators using MEO's offers to access ducts and poles.

Even with the intervention that is now planned, ANACOM may make other changes or adjustments to RDAO and RPAO prices in the future, if this proves to be necessary and justified, and in light of the intervention model to be adopted to accomplish compliance with the principle of cost-orientation of prices.

The draft decision is now subject to a prior hearing and public consultation for 20 working days.