Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Consultation on net neutrality

The Commission has initiated a public consultation on net neutrality. By the end of the year it should have produced a communication indicating trends, opinions and whether further steps (maybe regulatory?) should be followed.

Anti-dumping duty to Chinese WWAN modems

The Commission adopted regulation 570/2010 imposing the registration of Chinese made WWWAN (Wireless Wide Area Networking) modems as a first step in the process of imposing an anti-dumping fine if dumping is indeed verified.

The process was instigated after the lodge of a complaint by Option NV which by the way has transferred its total manufacturing to China (see 2008 BoD's report, p. 3).

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

OTE to engage in the TV business

The OTE's General Assembly has accorded to amend the company's statute in order for its scope of activities to entail the provision of broadcasting services (OTE's press release).

New price caps on roaming

From 1 July 2010, european consumers will enjoy lower prices in roaming, including texting and data (see the Commission's press release). However, the Commission expresses its concern that there is not sufficient competition just yet in roaming and that roaming prices should be further lowered down (see the press release). In fact the ambituous plan is to see the difference between roaming and national tariffs reach zero by 2015.

The latter is certainly a difficult if not an unreasonable objective to achieve. The roaming market entails different costs than the national markets and thus it is a bit strange to expect telecom firms to impose the same price. This does not contradict the fact that the roaming prices might be still excessive. It is just that those markets are different...Moreover, the roaming II regulation is to be reviewed by June 2011 and the Commission in its press release gives a hint if not a clear message on its stance on the matter. It should nevertheless be reminded that the Commission sees de-regulation as the ultimate objective in telecoms policy. The roaming market however may seem the last market to be de-regulated, especially after the CJEU supported the validity of the roaming regulation [the AG's point on the time horizon of the regulation should not be freely by-passed though (see contentandcarrier for remarks)].

Friday, 25 June 2010

Poland case on subscriber's rights withdrawed

The Commission has withdrawed its case against Poland regarding subscriber's rights rules. The Court had delivered a decision (C-492/07, in french) condeming Poland for failing to be in line with the Framework Directive since it considered subscribers not having signed a contract (pre-paid SIM cards) not entitled to enjoy full rights subscribers are vested with under the Directive (e.g. entry in a publicly available directory, right to receive non-itemised bills etc.).For the press release see the RSS of DG INFSO in the right hand side of the blog's main page.

AVMS Directive implementation - Greece and Cyprus cases likely to be referred to the Court

The Commission after sending Letters of Formal Notice to several States regarding the urgency for transposition of the AVMS Directive (had to be transposed by 19 December 2009), has sent to 12 Member States, including Greece and Cyprus, Reasoned Opinions. If the States fail to implement the Directive in the next two months, which is quite likely as far as Greece is concerned due to the priority given to other legislative measures, the case will be heard by the Court. For the press release see the RSS of DG INFSO in the right hand side of the blog's main page.

Letter to Poland and Reasoned Opinion for Germany on wholesale broadband access tariffs and mobile termination rates respectively

The Commission sent a Letter of Formal Notice to Poland with regard to the setting of wholesale broadband tariffs without prior consultation with the Commission and European Regulators as required. For the same reason but with regard to mobile termination rates, the Commission sends Germany before the Court. For the press release see the RSS of DG INFSO in the right hand side of the blog's main page.

Slovakian independence case withdrawed

The Commission has decided to withdraw its case against Slovakia for not aligning its legal regime with the requirement of independece of NRAs. For the press release see the RSS of DG INFSO in the right hand side of the blog's main page.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Opinion on Base and others and Commission v Belgium cases

M. Pedro Cruz Villalón AG delivered today his opinion in cases C-389/08 (in french) and C-222/08 (in french). These two case are quite similar and regard the issue of determination of the undertakings which incur an "unfair" burden in providing a universal service and the method to calculate the net costs for providing the universal service. In the first case the AG states that the only authority to be allocated with the abovementioned tasks is the NRA and not the legislative body and moreover that a law vesting retrospective effect to such a determination is unacceptable. In the second case, the AG recommends that the abovementioned excercise should not be undertaken in abstracto and that the element of the "intangible benefits" should be incorporated into the methodology for determining the net cost.

Transposition of Data Retention Directive into the Greek legal order. Too many cooks spoil the broth?

The Greek Government, after the ECJ ruled in November that Greece had infringed EU law by not transposing the Data Retention Directive into its legal order (decision in french), presented a new legislative instrument implementing the aforementioned Directive (you may find here the draft legislative proposal).

What is interesting, is that according to Article 12(2) of the draft legislative proposal, the Authority entrusted with the protection of the security of electronic communications has to refer any case of violation of the law to be adopted to EETT in case the appropriate remedy is considered to be that of the suspension or withdrawal of the operator's license and not merely that of an administrative fine. In the draft proposal we therefore have two independent authorities (Authority entrusted with the the protection of the security of electronic communications and the Authority for the protection of private data) principally responsible for the enforcement of the national legislative piece to be adopted and EETT in the aforementioned case.

Monday, 21 June 2010

FCC "overrides" the DC Circuit's Comcast ruling

The FCC instigates a public consulation proceeding to find a way to secure an adequate legal framework for broadband access after the DC Circuit ruined its plans on net neutrality and endangering in general the US National Broadband Plan. It seems that the FCC is a priori of the opinion that a possible answer would be to re-evaluate its standing that ISPs deliver an information society service. If this is to happen, then the road is open for regulating ISPs.

ps: I am not quite sure, if the FCC opts for reconsidering ISPs as information society providers, whether a Court may step in to rule that the FCC has no such power vested with by the Telecoms Act 1996.

BEREC opts for BaK

BEREC in a Common Statement opts for the BaK (Bill and Keep) interconnetion regime as the appropriate solution in the long term as against that of the CPNP (Calling Party Network Pays).

However, it mentions that migration to the BaK regime should be gradual especially as far as smaller countries are concerned wich are surrounded by countries using CPNP, in order to avoid excessive free riding. In any case, it is proposed that the BaK is more efficient in the long term and is likely to drive prices lower even if some countries continue using the CPNP with the latter are likely to see lowering of prices too.

Commission accepts Virtual Unbundling for Austria too

The Commission accepted Virtual Unbundling of the fibre network as a short term solution for Austria too (the first case was that of OFCOM in the UK). The Commission nevertheless stressed that only full unbundling should be adopted in the long term. It also, mentioned that RTR's decision not to take into consideration fibre in the market definition exercise should be avoided in the near future (see the press release).

Friday, 18 June 2010

New Board of OTE

The Greek government has appointed Mr. Vassilis Fourlis (President of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises), Mr. Nikos Karamouzis (deputy CEO of EFG Eurobank and Professor in the School of Finance and Bank Administration of the Univeristy of Piraeus), Mr. Dimitris Tzouganatos (Professor in the Law School of Athens, specialising mainly in competition law), Mr. Mihalis Mpletsas (Professor in the IT department of the MIT Lab) and Mr. Stathis Anestis (deputy Secretary of the Greek Federal Union of Workers)as members of OTE's BoD. It remains from DT to decide on its members and negotiate with the Greek government the new President and CEO of OTE.

The NGA Recommendation adopted yesterday

The NGA Recommendation was adopted yesterday in the COCOM meeting. Hopefully, the document will be available in the next coming hours.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

New "Swift Agreement"

The new "Swift Agreement" was adopted by the European Commission. The previous version of the Agreement was rejected by the Parliament after exercising its new enhanced powers under the Lisbon Treaty. According to this Agreement the US Department of Treasury will be able to store raw data of payments to its facilities for 5 years. Europol will have to give permission and will be able to request the process of specific data by the US system.

It should nevertheless by reminded that there are voices suggesting that the agreement is not in line with the Data Retention Directive and Privacy regulation in general (see EDRI for example). Thus, it is not unlikely to see again a rejection of the EU-US anti-terror agreement by the Parliament (see also euractiv).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

CJEU delivers decision in Mediaset State Aid case

The CJEU ruled on Mediaset that the Italian Government wrongfully subsidised digital terrestrial and cable decoders, ommitting to include in the state aid, other types of decoders (e.g. satellite decoders) and thus distorting competition in the market.

The Court based its judgment to a large extent to the concept of technological neutrality, considering that deviation from this concept has distorting effects on competition in the market.

Monday, 14 June 2010

EETT's conference

One of the most important events in the area is about to take place on the 17th and 18th of June. For info on the EETT's conference, advise its dedicated website.

The Greek Ministry of Infrastructure initates consulation on the draft legislation on rights of way through state owned property

The Greek Ministry of infratructure has given out a draft (in greek) of the proposed legislation on rights of way through state owned property.

This is a long awaited development, even though it is ony a partial solution, the need of which is also mentioned in the Commission's 15th Implementation Report. In this initial version of the draft the positive elements are that a codification of the necessary actions and documents is provided and a time limit to the public authorities is set after which even if the authority has not decided on the issue, the license is issued. Of course, the complexity and volume of the actions and documents to be requested by the competent public authorities and the room for maneuvre given to public authorities eabling them to circumvent the aforementioned general rule of time limit, still constitute significant drawbacks. In any case it remains to be seen whether a more simplified approach on the matter will be adopted in the final version of the legislative instrument.

Friday, 11 June 2010

OTE's President and CEO, Mr. Vourloumis faces felony charges

The Board for Felonies has decided to bring Mr. Vourloumis, OTE's President & CEO, to trial before the Tripartite Court of Appeals for Felonies. Mr. Vourloumis faces felony charges and particularly that of breach of trust regarding contracts concluded between OTE on one hand and Siemens and Intracom on the other, during the time period 2003-2007. If indicted, he could face inprisonment for up to 10 years.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

ECJ ruled today on validity of Roaming Regulation

Relief for the European Commission (see the press release) as the ECJ confirmed today the legal validity of the first Roaming Regulation (Regulation 717/2007) in case C-58/08 Vodafone and others. The ECJ came to clarify that Regulation 717/2007 is in line with the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity. It shall be added that Regulation 544/2009 has amended the first roaming regulation deferring the expiry of the legal instrument to June 2012 if no amendment is adopted (in the latter case, proposals to the EP and Council through a public consultation shall be submitted till 30 June 2011 at the latest). The Commission has already commissioned a study.

Monday, 7 June 2010

EETT reduces expected time for number protability

The EETT has issued a regulatory decision (in greek) reducing the expected time for number portability to 3 days. It should be reminded that under the Universal Services Directive as amended by the Citizens Rights Directive and which is to be transposed by June 2011, the period of time for number portability shall be reduced to just one day.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Commission accepts OFCOM's proposal on virtual unbundling of BT's fibre network

The Commission accepted (see the press release) OFCOM's proposal to proceed to virtual unbundling of the local access (VULA) of BT's fibre network. However, it went on to mention that this type of unbundling, although practical for the moment, should be replaced by fibre unbundling once it is viable. The Commission moreover, opted for a cost orientated approach regarding VULA stating that such an approach may take into account the investment risk in order to balance between stimulation of competition and investment. The interest deriving from this case is of course enormous as various discussions have taken place on the issue. Especially after the Deuthsche Telekom case (C-424/07), the Commission has the stand to firmly adher to the approach of full regulation of NGNs as well. However, it should be reminded that the objective justifications of Article 12 of the Access Directive as amended by the Better Regulation Directive provides some room for maneuvre to dominant network operators.

Virtual unbundling of BT's fibre network

The Commission accepted (see the press release) OFCOM's proposal to proceed to virtual unbundling of the local access (VULA) of BT's fibre network. However, it went on to mention that this type of unbundling, although practical for the moment, should be replaced by fibre unbundling once it is viable. The Commission moreover, opted for a cost orientated approach regarding VULA stating that such an approach may take into account the investment risk in order to balance between stimulation of competition and investment. The interest deriving from this case is of course enormous as various discussions have taken place on the issue. Especially after the Deuthsche Telekom case (C-424/07), the Commission has the stand to firmly adher to the approach of full regulation of NGNs as well. However, it should be reminded that the objective justifications of Article 12 of the Access Directive as amended by the Better Regulation Directive provides some room for maneuvre to dominant network operators.