Everyone Loves DSL

By Katerina Ognyanova

Bulgarian Competition Protection Commission (CPC) has opened two claims filed by local company Internet Bulgaria and the association of electronic media over the failure of fixed-line telecom operator BTC to secure access of alternative operators to its ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) network. The anti-trust body will decide whether BTC is abusing its monopoly position by offering ADSL access.

Internet Bulgaria insists that it should be given the option to offer DSL Internet via the so-called beat-stream access. Bulgarian Internet providers are de facto granted access to BTC last-mile connection (the infrastructure that reaches end customers) as of 2005. However, alternative telecom operators complain that the high rental fees for subscriber lines make the use of the last-mile access economically ineffective. That is why alternative telecoms are seeking beat-stream access as a possible alternative as this access will allow them to transfer only content without getting access to end customers.

Under the latest version of the telecommunications law, BTC should offer to its competitors a specific access to its network but it is not clear whether this access involves beat-stream. According to the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), the specific access means dial-up connection. The two claims are groundless, BTC lawyers said on the basis of two CRC decisions dating from 2004 saying that BTC was not obliged to provide ADSL access to alternative telecoms but solely dial-up access. This provision will remain until January 1 2007 when the new telecommunication law will enter into force.

The association of electronic media will insist before the anti-monopoly body to impose financial sanctions on BTC and to oblige the telecom to stop offering the DSL service until it provides beat-stream access. The association claims that BTC is offering dumping prices and that the fees for alternative operators make them uncompetitive on the market.

BTC explained that it did not plan to stop offering ADSL services.