Brussels, 12 August 2013
Telecoms - Commission suspends Portuguese regulator’s proposal on remedies in the fixed termination market
The European Commission has suspended a proposal from the Portuguese telecoms regulator (ANACOM) concerning regulatory remedies for the fixed termination market as it has serious concerns on the scope of the proposed access obligation.
The Commission is particularly worried that the lack of a comprehensive access obligation, including for instance interconnection through an IP network - which is standard in most other Member States - would not allow for a swift resolution of access problems and could leave consumers unable to make calls to other networks. ANACOM's proposal could also make it possible for fixed operators to refuse or delay access to a part of their networks in an attempt to eliminate their direct competitors from the market.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said: "Consumers must be able to make the calls they wish. For this reason, where we have a monopoly situation like in fixed termination markets, we need to guarantee access to the network for all operators and all consumers."
Under EU telecom rules, the access obligation requires an operator to interconnect its respective network with that of any other operator. ANACOM proposes to impose this obligation for traditional ways of interconnection but not for IP interconnection.
The Portuguese regulator now has three months to work with the European Commission and the Body of European telecoms regulators (BEREC) to find a solution to this case. In the meantime, implementation of the proposal is suspended.
On 12 July 2013, the Commission registered a notification from the Portuguese national regulatory authority (ANACOM), concerning the market for call termination on individual public telephone networks provided at a fixed location in Portugal.
The Commission’s decision to start an in-depth investigation begins a “second phase” procedure under article 7a of the EU Telecoms Directive (MEMO/11/321).
Regulatory remedies suggested by ANACOM include obligations of access, non-discrimination, transparency and price control to be imposed on all fixed operators active in the wholesale market for fixed call termination. These remedies are trying to address several market failures, such as denial of access and the imposition of excessive rates, in a market in which each fixed operator has a monopoly position. Fixed termination rates are fees fixed operators charge to deliver calls from other fixed and mobile networks.
"Article 7" of the Telecoms Framework Directive requires national telecoms regulators to notify the Commission, BEREC (the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) and telecoms regulators in other EU countries, of measures that they plan to introduce to address the lack of effective competition in the markets in question.
The new rules enable the Commission to adopt further harmonisation measures in the form of recommendations or (binding) decisions, if divergences in the regulatory approaches of national regulators, including remedies, persist across the EU in the longer term.
The Commission's letter sent to the Portuguese regulator will be published on https://circabc.europa.eu/
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