Fibre-to-the-home will develop quicker if regulations are put in place to prevent the duplication of infrastructure, said Orange Horizons CEO Sébastien Crozier.
This isn’t something Icasa has to develop from scratch, as there are plenty of countries in Europe that South Africa could learn from.
“There are many ways to do it, there isn’t just one type of regulation across Europe,” said Crozier.
“But in the end the aim is the same – don’t build two sets of fibre infrastructure to the same location.”
South Africa’s challenge of multiple companies digging up the same routes to lay cable are not unique, he said.
There are many examples around the world that SA can compare itself against to find the most suitable model.
“That doesn’t prove it will work,” he said, but it is a good way to start an analysis. From there, we could merge multiple models to create our own.
Not all smooth sailing
Crozier said when these infrastructure sharing regulations are implemented, there will be uncertainty – leading to disagreements.
“In the beginning it’s always the same. If the companies can’t find a commercial agreement to share infrastructure, the regulatory authority steps in to make a rule.”
There is the risk that only letting one company build fibre on a particular route will lead to a monopoly, and price gauging.
“On the one hand you don’t want inefficiency, but on the other you don’t want a monopoly,” he said.
This is where effective regulation is key, because it addresses the issues that arise from a monopoly and helps protect investment.
If companies knows that return on their fibre investment along a particular route is guaranteed due to exclusivity, Crozier argued they will be far more inclined to roll out fibre to more areas.
In short: effective fibre regulation will speed up the roll-out of FTTH in South Africa, because infrastructure investments will be secured and companies will be forced to roll out to new areas.
Without it, Crozier predicts that many fibre players will die, and investment will be lost.