Working paper / Communications and Media
Economic replicability tests for next-generation access networks
This paper discusses the relevant cost standard for the economic replicability test for Next-Generation Access (NGA) networks, described in the Recommendation on Costing and Non-discrimination adopted by the European Commission. According to the Recommendation itself, in order to reconcile investment and competition, wholesale prices should have nonlinear characteristics and be only partly variable with the number of accesses. We demonstrate that a cost standard for the economic replicability test that implies fully fixed and variable cost recovery for the access seeker, including the total wholesale price, would be incompatible with the economics of NGA networks and that such a test would deter NGA investment. Therefore the cost standard for the economic replicability test should include only the variable part of the wholesale prices. However, we underline that during a transition phase, until competitors have secured access to NGA infrastructure, a temporary second test called the “competition migration test” should be added to ensure incumbent NGA retail prices do not foreclose copper-based efficient entrants. The tests we propose surpass the limits of the “ladder of investment” theory by including the “business migration effect” developed by Bourreau et al. (2012).