BEREC Report on Common Characteristics of Layer 2 Wholesale Access Products in the European Union
In recent years several NRAs have imposed access to (active) layer 2 (Ethernet) wholesale access products (hereinafter L2 WAP) as a remedy on the wholesale local access market (Market 4) and/or the wholesale broadband access market (Market 5). In order to get a deeper insight into these products and to foster the exchange of experiences and contribute to the harmonisation of regulatory instruments used in the European Union, this document has the following two objectives. Firstly, it aims to give an overview of the L2 WAP of the following ten countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom where the imposed L2 WAP is available as well as Germany and the Netherlands where the L2 WAP is not yet available but is or will be imposed. Secondly, it aims to identify common characteristics of the L2 WAP of these ten countries. The document covers both L2 WAP with local points of handover (PoH) (also known as virtual unbundled local access (VULA)) and L2 WAP with PoH at higher levels of the network hierarchy, e.g. regional PoH (also known as enhanced bitstream). The analysis is descriptive and does not aim at being normative or recommend a best practice.L2 WAP with local PoH in the countries analysed are imposed where physical unbundling (LLU/SLU) is no longer technically possible or economically viable due to the NGA rollout by the incumbent operator. Therefore, L2 WAP with local PoH aim to offer alternative network operators (ANOs) as much as possible the same flexibility to provide different products and to innovate as with physical unbundling. However, the flexibility and potential to differentiate is restricted compared to physical unbundling since L2 WAP provide a service (not a physical medium) and the technological capabilities in the network of the provider of L2 WAP have to be taken into account. Nonetheless, the regulation usually aims, as much as possible and proportionate, to enable ANOs to provide a variety of services for residential and business customers (including voice, internet, IPTV, and data) based on L2 WAP with local PoH. The common characteristics of the L2 WAP with local PoH identified contribute to this regulatory objective.L2 WAP with regional PoH in the countries analysed are usually imposed on wholesale broadband access markets in order to give alternative operators more flexibility and a higher degree of freedom regarding product characteristics compared to a layer 3 product (IP bitstream).