The Austrian regulatory authority made further rulings in the fourth round of the market review process in 2013 and 2014 as part of the statutory market analysis. It was guided among other things by the European Commission’s recommendation pertaining to the regulation of fixed and mobile termination rates of May 2009. Generally, the goal is to harmonise and significantly lower these rates throughout Europe. The new cost accounting models developed under these guidelines provide the basis for the glidepaths which apply to fixed-line and mobile termination rates. In accordance with requirements, Austrian fixed-line and mobile termination rates were already reduced in the previous year with effect from 1 November 2013.
Besides British Telecommunications plc in the UK, A1 Telekom Austria AG is the only company in Europe to offer the innovative product of virtual unbundled local access (VULA) as part of its next-generation access (NGA) network expansion. This product has been confirmed by both the national regulatory authority and the European Commission as a central wholesale product for NGA expansion. The requirements of the latest rulings on the wholesale markets ‘Physical access’ and ‘Wholesale broadband’ were also formulated accordingly.
After the European Commission vetoed the draft ruling of the Austrian regulator, the Telecom Control Commission (TKK), on the wholesale market for ‘Terminating segments of leased lines and Ethernet services’, the market analysis was rolled out anew. Following approval by the European Commission in coordination proceedings, the wholesale market for ‘Terminating segments of leased lines and Ethernet services’ is now regulated by a new ruling of the TKK dated 28 July 2014. With this ruling, leased lines and Ethernet services with high bandwidths were deregulated within 359 Austrian municipalities. In exchange, A1 Telekom Austria AG is obliged for the first time to lease dark fibre to its wholesale customers in rural areas under certain conditions.
Business performance in the international markets of the Telekom Austria Group was influenced by the following regulatory provisions for fixed-line operations: In Bulgaria, termination rates were significantly reduced from 1 July 2013 in accordance with the aforementioned EU recommendation. Until that time, the regulator (CRC) had intended a two-stage path, which came into effect from 1 July 2012, defining prices for local and national termination regardless of whether calls originated domestically or abroad. Since Croatia joined the EU as at 1 July 2013, the same European stipulations on termination rates also apply to all Croatian operators.