The European Parliament and the Council reached late last night a political agreement to update the EU's telecoms rules. The new European Electronic Communications Code, proposed by the Commission, will boost investments in very high capacity networks across the EU, including in remote and rural areas.
Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip said: "This agreement is essential to meet Europeans' growing connectivity needs and boost Europe's competitiveness. We are laying the groundwork for the deployment of 5G across Europe."
Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, said: "The new telecoms rules are an essential building block for Europe's digital future. After several months of tough negotiations, we have agreed on bold and balanced rules to provide faster access to radio spectrum, better services and more protection for consumers, as well as greater investment in very high speed networks.”
The agreed rules are crucial for achieving Europe's connectivity targets and providing everyone in the EU the best possible internet connection, so they can participate fully in the digital economy.
The new Electronic Communications Code will:
Enhance the deployment of 5G networks by ensuring the availability of 5G radio spectrum by end of 2020 in the EU and providing operators with predictability for at least 20 years in terms of spectrum licensing; including on the basis of better coordination of planned radio spectrum assignments.
Facilitate the roll-out of new, very high capacity fixed networks by making rules for co-investment more predictable and promoting risk sharing in the deployment of very high capacity networks; promoting sustainable competition for the benefit of consumers, with a regulatory emphasis on the real bottlenecks, such as wiring, ducts and cables inside buildings; and a specific regulatory regime for wholesale only operators. Moreover, the new rules will also ensure closer cooperation between the Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) in supervising measures related to the new key access provisions of co-investment and symmetric regulation.
Benefit and protect consumers, irrespective of whether end-users communicate through traditional (calls, sms) or web-based services (Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) by:
- ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable communications services, including universally available internet access, for services such as egovernment, online banking or video calls;
- ensuring that international calls within the EU will not cost more than 19 cents per minute, while making sure that the new rules would not distort competition, innovation and investment;
- giving equivalent access to communications for end-users with disabilities;
- promoting better tariff transparency and comparison of contractual offers;
- guaranteeing better security against hacking, malware, etc.;
- better protecting consumers subscribing to bundled service packages;
- making it easier to change service provider and keep the same phone number, including rules for compensations if the process goes wrong or takes too long;
- increasing protection of citizens in emergency situations, including retrieving more accurate caller location in emergency situations, broadening emergency communications to text messaging and video calls, and establishing a system to transmit public warnings on mobile phones.
At work, at home or on the move, Europeans expect an internet connection that is fast and reliable. Encouraging investments in very high-capacity networks is increasingly important for education, healthcare, manufacturing or transport. To meet these challenges and prepare Europe's digital future, in September 2016 the Commission proposed the establishment of a European Electronic Communications Code and a proposal for a Regulation on the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications. The Code will modernise the current EU telecoms rules, which were last updated in 2009, stimulate competition to drive investments and strengthen the internal market and consumer rights.
In March 2018 the Parliament and the Council agreed on the way forward for radio spectrum management to be able to introduce 5G in the EU. Once fully adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, Member States will have two years to transpose the Electronic Communications Code into national law.
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