Public (Municipal) Initiatives
This Practice Note presents an excerpt from “Chapter 9: Enabling Environment for NGN” in Trends in Telecommunications Reform 2007 (
9.3.11 Public (municipal) initiatives
Another route taken by certain governments, particularly local governments, involves the direct deployment of next generation access and core networks via public-private partnerships. Municipally sponsored FTTH projects are springing up across Europe and the
Next Gen NBN
The Next Gen NBN is envisaged as a carrier-neutral, totally-wired network. IDA has proposed this to be an open platform which supports multiple service providers in delivering multiple services to homes and offices. IDA expects the private sector to build, own and operate the NBN. However, IDA´s proposal calls for structural separation of the Operating Company and the retail service providers (RSPs) to ensure that all RSPs are treated on an equitable basis in terms of pricing and contractual arrangements for equivalent services and volumes. The Government has indicated that it will provide some funding to kick-start the project and to ensure that this ultra high-speed broadband service will be viable, affordable and sustainable in the long-term. The process of deploying the NBN was initiated with a Request-For-Concept (RFC) in March 2006. By year-end 2007, a private sector partner will be announced. The appointed operator is expected to complete at least 50 per cent of network rollout within 3 years of the award and to complete the project within 5 years.
To complement the Next Gen NBN, the government will first work with the private sector to accelerate the deployment of the WBN in key “catchment” areas, such as places of interests, the central business district and suburban town centres. On October 10, 2006, IDA selected three operators for the project. These operators have launched initial commercial services in January 2007 and are expected to complete the project by year-end 2008.
Sources: IDA, Fact sheet: Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure, available at http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/ngn/documents/NGNII-Factsheet-060303-Singapore.pdf; IDA, Summary of Responses of Request-For-Concept for Next Generation National Broadband Network, August 15, 2006, available at http://www.ida.gov.sg/idaweb/doc/download/I3757/Summary_of_RFC_Responses.pdf; IDA, Wireless Broadband Market Development Call for Collaboration (CFC) home page, available at http://www.ida.gov.sg/idaweb/marketing/infopage.jsp?infopagecategory=factsheet:wireless&versionid=1&infopageid=I3764.
A key element of this trend involves the creation of an open access network that will allow non-discriminatory access by multiple service providers to next-generation networks. However, not all municipal projects are open access networks. In the
UTOPIA was originally formed in 2002 by fourteen cities in the State of
Poorly targeted public schemes, however, may potentially result in considerable harm, particularly if such public intervention distorts commercial incentives for efficient investment. In many cases, governments must adopt suitable legislation or regulation which determines the scope of such projects. For example, in
In addition, public projects may face legal challenges from incumbent providers. In the
In June 2004,
Municipalities must publish their projects to roll-out infrastructure in the official journal two months before starting operations and must also inform the regulator, ARCEP, of their projects. Local governments must adhere to principles of transparency, non-discrimination, and proportionality in their telecommunication activities. In addition, they must establish account separation for activities involving the telecommunication network.
In early 2006, ARCEP reported that French municipalities had shown interest in 1’480 municipal telecommunications networks projects, 380 of which foresaw the deployment of fibre-optic networks.
 The Operating Company will be responsible for running the Network, providing bandwidth connectivity on a wholesale basis to RSPs that would compete with each other providing services to end-users.
 See Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and FTTH Council, U.S. Optical Fibre Communities – 2006, available at http://www.ftthcouncil.org/documents/959055.pdf. It is worth noting that there has been considerable increase in the number of communities served with FTTH in the
 Ofcom, supra note 8, at p. 19.
 See Randal C. Picker, Who Should Regulate Entry into IPTV and Municipal Wireless? John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper No. 308,
 For a recent reference to the legal landscape of municipal WiFi in the
 Code General de Collectivités Territoriales. Article L 1425.1, introduced by the Loi nº 2004-575 du 21 juin 2004 pour la confiance dans l’économie numérique.
 Municipalities can only serve end users directly if it is confirmed that private initiatives are insufficient to meet end user demand in their jurisdictions. To this end, local governments must conduct public offerings to enlist private operators that meet this demand. Only if this process is unsuccessful (i.e., no private parties come forward to meet demand), and after duly notifying the French regulator, ARCEP, may local governments engage in the provision of end user services.
 Equipement des zones d’activité en infrastructures de télécommunications a haut et très haut débit. Guide pour les aménageurs et pour les collectivités. ARCEP. p. 14.