March 31, 2017 / 5:11 PM / 2 years ago

Portugal rejects EU recommendation to open up fibre network

LISBON, March 31 (Reuters) - Portugal’s telecoms regulator ANACOM said again on Friday it had rejected the European Commission’s recommendation that it open up part of Altice’s national fibre optic network to rivals.

ANACOM had indicated last year that it would not comply with the recommendation, prompting Brussels to conduct an inquiry and to warn that the European Commission could pursue legal measures if ANACOM did not change tack.

Local competitors such as Vodafone have been pushing Brussels to open up access to the network operated by Altice’s unit MEO in rural areas.

ANACOM said that its decision was based on the fact that Portugal had expanded its broadband network across the country using multiple networks that were operated by several companies.

“After thorough consideration, ANACOM maintains its decision not to heed the EU recommendation, taking into account data showing the specifics of the national broadband market compared with other European countries,” the regulator said.

In 2015 Amsterdam-listed Altice bought former state monopoly PT Portugal, which included MEO, Portugal’s biggest pay-TV and broadband Internet service provider.

ANACOM said its regulations had made it possible for MEO’s rivals, which include NOS and Vodafone Portugal, to invest in their own infrastructure.

But competitors have complained about Altice’s dominance. Vodafone has said it expects Brussels to force Portugal to open up, saying customers in some areas faced a worse service, limited offers and higher bills than in other regions.

The European Commission inquiry that ended in November carried a warning that legal steps could follow if ANACOM did not amend or withdraw its decision to reject the recommendations. (Reporting By Daniel Alvarenga and Andrei Khalip; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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