CNMC axes MVNO rules – Viva la Deregulation

The Spanish National Authority for Markets and Competition (CNMC) has decided to remove regulations which force MNOs to provide reasonable access to their mobile infrastructure.

The regulation itself dates back to 2006, as the government looked to stimulate a relatively stagnant market, and encourage more challenger brands to make a move. The idea itself could be viewed as a successful move, as the country now counts roughly 30 MVNOs, as well as the incumbent MNOs such as Telefonica and Orange, offering much more freedom to customers. MVNOs account for around 15% of total market share in the country.

Over the course of the last 10 years, wholesale charges for voice and data had steadily fallen and in some micro-geographies the MVNOs are more popular. Due to these reasons, CNMC does not believe the deregulation will impact competition in the country, and a healthy telecommunications sector will continue. Viva la deregulation!

That said, we are slightly suspect.

CNMC will retain the right to step in should the MNOs decide to screw over one (or more) of the MVNOs by removing access to the network, or steeply increase wholesale prices, but it does seem a bit of a paper threat. We’re also not really too sure why they decided to deregulate in the first place.

There’s nothing worse than over regulating a market, but the current set-up doesn’t seem to be having a negative impact on the industry on the whole, at least not according to the regulator. Why alter the status quo and give the temptation of nefarious behaviour to the MNOs?

Operators across the world are struggling. That is not a secret. Should reports be believed, Telefonica is an operator which is struggling more than others. How long before the giant decides to change the rules for MVNOs in the country remains to be seen…

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