Brussels, 14 May 2009
Telecoms: Commission takes legal action against Bulgaria so that consumers can change their fixed phone operator while keeping their number
The Commission today opened an infringement procedure against Bulgaria for failing to introduce number portability for fixed-line phones, when phone users change their operator but want to keep their phone number. When it joined the EU in 2007, Bulgaria was allowed to postpone the introduction of number portability until 1 January 2009, a deadline that has now passed without results. As required by the EU telecoms rules, phone users of all other Member States, and, since April 2008, mobile phone users in Bulgaria, can have their numbers ported to other operators. Bulgaria now has two months to reply to the Commission.
“Number portability is a very important competition tool since it enables customers to change operators without losing their phone numbers. This makes it easier for consumers to make up their mind to switch operators and is a crucial factor for the development of competitive markets. I therefore have to insist that EU rules on number portability are observed in all 27 Member States, effectively and without discrimination,” said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding. “Unfortunately, Bulgarian customers are not able to retain their fixed number when they change operator since this service is not yet available. I urge the Bulgarian authorities to act as fast as possible so that Bulgarian consumers can add to the 24 million fixed lines that have been ported since the rule came into force in 2003.”
The Commission today expressed concerns that with fixed number portability unavailable to fixed phone subscribers, Bulgaria is failing to fulfil its obligations resulting from the EU telecoms rules (Article 30 of the Universal Service Directive) to ensure the provision of fixed number portability. It called on the Bulgarian Government to respond within two months.
At the end of January 2009, the Bulgarian telecoms regulator, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), confirmed that the introduction of the fixed number portability was still under preparation and the operators are negotiating on the procedure for its implementation.
If Bulgaria fails to provide an adequate response within two months, the Commission may, if appropriate, go to the next stage of the infringement procedure and issue a reasoned opinion. As a subsequent step the Commission may refer this case to the European Court of Justice.
EU telecoms rules require Member States to ensure that all subscribers of telephone services can retain their phone number no matter which phone operator they are using, for both fixed and mobile phone services.
This March, Viviane Reding, in her weekly video post, called for a consumer right to change phone operator in one working day (MEMO/09/126). On average across the EU, it currently takes 8.5 days for a mobile number and 7.5 days for a fixed number to be ported.
A detailed overview of the telecoms infringement proceedings is available at: