Tuesday, 30 October 2012

ANACOM issues guidance to operators on consumer contracts

"The National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications (ANCOM) has completed and makes available to the providers the Guide regarding the conclusion and the mandatory clauses of the contracts for the provision of publicly available electronic communications services. The Guide has been created in order to facilitate the providers’ implementation of the provisions regarding contracts stipulated in the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 111/2011 on electronic communications, thus ensuring a better protection of the end-users’ rights." (see Romanian regulator's press release).

Romanian NRA consults on 900 and 1800 MHz 4g decision

"ANCOM has published for public consultation a draft decision aimed at allowing the use of the 900 and 1800 MHz bands for 4th generation communications services (4G) as well, in order to impel the provision of multimedia mobile communications and data transmissions services with higher capacities and at higher speeds. According to the draft decision, the operators holding licences for the use of these bands will be able to also offer fourth generation communications services in these frequencies by means of LTE or WiMAX technologies." (see ANACOM's press release).

FICORA consults on 800 MHz draft regulation

The Finnish NRA launched its consultation on its draft regulation concerning autctioning in the 800MHz as well (see related page).

Cypriot NRA consults on its review of the wholesale market for tv broadcasting services

OCECPR launched its consultation on the review of the wholesale tv broadcasting services market, under which it proposes to regulate ex ante the market (see related page, in greek).

ComReg consults on retail fixed access market review

The Irish NRA launched its retail fixed access market review (see consultation document).

UK completes digital switchover releasing more spectrum for 4g

"Ofcom today welcomed the successful completion of the UK’s switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television. This has ensured that all UK households now have access to wide range of digital television channels and has also paved the way for the next generation of mobile broadband.

The switchover to digital has freed up much needed capacity that will be used to deliver the fourth generation (4G) of mobile services. At the end of 2012, Ofcom will start the process of auctioning the Digital Dividend, the airwaves previously occupied by analogue television." (see OFCOM's and DCMS' press release).

Commission's Art. 7 Comments to BNetzA concerning some LLU remedies

The European Commission, made the following comments, in its decision addressed to the German NRA, on the latter's remedies in the LLU market, and the setting specifically of "(i) one-off activation and cancellation fees for full LLU, and (ii) one-off activation/cancellation as well as monthly rental fees for shared access, i.e. Carrier Line Sharing (CLS)":

"Notification of amendments to the price control obligations

The Commission notes that some price decisions taken by BNetzA with regard to the SMP operator DT have not been notified under the Article 7 consultation procedure.
 

Price control constitutes a regulatory obligation referred to in Article 16 of the Framework Directive and has an effect on trade between Member States. Therefore, tariffs-related draft measures are required to be notified under Article 7(3) in conjunction with Recital 15 of the Framework Directive.
 

Furthermore, according to the Commission Recommendation on notifications, time limits and consultations provided for in Article 7 of the Framework Directive, price levels and amendments to the methodologies used to calculate costs or prices are considered to be material changes to the nature or scope of a remedy that have an appreciable impact on the market and should therefore be notified to the European Commission under the standard notification procedure.

Therefore, the Commission welcomes the current notification and reiterates the need for BNetzA to notify any future modification of costing methodologies and/or price levels.
 

Consistency of access prices across the EU
 

Following the Commission's recent comments related to the price setting for LLU products, the Commission stresses the importance of consistent regulation across the EU of key wholesale access products in the transition period to NGA networks. In the light of the current Commission's work on non-discrimination and costing regulatory approaches to a number of access products, including
LLU, the Commission invites BNetzA to review its analysis upon entry into force of any relevant recommendations.
"

Friday, 26 October 2012

AG issues Opinion in Belgacom case

AG Jääskinen issued its opinion in Case C-375/11, concerning the imposition of substantive one-off fees to operators even when renewing their licenses, and the conclusions of which read as follows:

"(1)      Article 13 of Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services permits Member States to charge operators holding individual rights to use mobile phone frequencies for a period of 15 years, in the context of authorisations to install and operate on their territory mobile phone networks issued under the scheme instituted under the former legal framework, a one‑off fee for the renewal of their individual rights to use frequencies the amount of which, relating to the number of frequencies and months to which the rights of use relate, is calculated on the basis of the former one‑off grant fee that was associated with the issue of the aforementioned authorisations, when that one‑off fee is additional to both an annual charge for making frequencies available and a charge covering the cost of managing the authorisation.

(2)      Article 13 of Directive 2002/20 permits the Member States to charge operators hoping to acquire new rights to use mobile phone frequencies a one‑off fee the amount of which is determined at auction on the assignment of frequencies, in order to reflect the value of frequencies, when that one‑off fee is additional to both an annual charge for making frequencies available and an annual charge for the management of authorisations to install and operate mobile phone networks issued under the scheme instituted under the former legal framework.

(3)      Article 14(2) of Directive 2002/20 permits the Member States to charge mobile phone operators, in respect of the renewal of their individual rights to use mobile phone radio frequencies, to which certain of them were already entitled, before the beginning of the renewal period, a one‑off fee relating to the renewal of the rights to use frequencies they enjoyed before the renewal period, intended to encourage optimal use of the frequencies by way of reflecting their value, when that one‑off fee is additional to both an annual charge for making frequencies available and an annual charge for the management of authorisations to install and operate mobile phone networks issued under the scheme instituted under the former legal framework.

(4)      Article 14(1) of the Directive 2002/20 permits the Member States to add, as a condition of acquiring and renewing rights to use frequencies, a one‑off fee that is determined at auction, without limit, when that one‑off fee is additional to both an annual charge for making frequencies available (intended first and foremost to cover the costs of making frequencies available while at the same time also partially reflecting the value of frequencies, the purpose of the one‑off fee and the annual charge being to encourage optimal use of the frequencies) and an annual charge for the management of authorisations to install and operate mobile phone networks issued under the scheme instituted under the former legal framework."

FTC Recommends Best Practices on Facial Recognition Technologies

"The Federal Trade Commission today released a staff report "Facing Facts: Best Practices for Common Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies" for the increasing number of companies using facial recognition technologies, to help them protect consumers’ privacy as they use the technologies to create innovative new commercial products and services." (see FTC's press release).

FCC adopts order freeing up 30 MHz

"The Federal Communications Commission today adopted revised rules to enable Wireless Communications Service (WCS) licensees’ to use a total of 30 megahertz of underutilized spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band for wireless broadband services, while protecting the adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) operator Sirius XM Radio Inc. (Sirius XM) against harmful interference. Today’s action continues the FCC’s efforts to remove the regulatory barriers that are limiting the flexible use of spectrum for broadband services.

The revised rules are consistent with a compromise proposal between AT&T Inc. and Sirius XM designed to facilitate the efficient deployment and coexistence of the WCS and SDARS. 

Of the 30 megahertz of total spectrum, 20 megahertz may be used for mobile broadband services and 10 megahertz for fixed broadband services, with possible future use as downlink spectrum to serve mobile broadband devices." (see FCC's press release and order).

ANACOM adopts decision on concept of 'abnormally high access costs' in universal service

"By determination of 12 October 2012, ANACOM approved the final decision on implementing the concept of "abnormally high access costs" as used in the methodology employed to calculate the CLSU - custos líquidos do serviço universal (net costs of universal service) of electronic communications.  As such, ANACOM determined that, for this purpose, the costs considered are to be those associated with customers which are situated in the third of customers with highest access costs." (see press release).

Cypriot NRA finalises draft Decree on conumer protection

OCECPR has issued its final version of the draft Decree (in greek) on consumer protection, prescribing the info that operators have to include in their bills and make publicly available and providing measures for consumer protection as regards PRS.

Belgian regulator approves Belgacom's alternative to multicast (access to IPTV platform) Reference Offer

BIPT approved (in french) Belgacom's alternative to multicast (access to IPTV platform) Reference Offer. Alternative operators will be able to offer multiplay bundles (press release, in french).

AGCOM consults on TI's NGA Bitsream Reference Offer

The Italian NRA launched its consultation (in italian) as regards Telecom Italia's NGA Bitsream Reference Offer.

AGCOM approves TI's Bitstream Reference Offer for 2012 and adopts transitory measures for 2013

The Italian NRA approved (in italian) Telecom Italia's Bitstream Reference Offer for 2012. The agency has also adopted transitory measures (in italian) as regards the applicable rates until the 2013 review of markets 4 and 5 are concluded. AGCOM has decided in general that the 2012 rates will apply until the abovementioned reviews are completed (incl. the approval of TI's reference offers).

Italian NRA consults on digital terrestrial channels LCN

AGCOM launched its consultation (in italian) concerning the automatic logical canal numbering of digital terrestrial channels.

Italian NRA launches review of SMS termination market

AGCOM launched its review (in italian) of the SMS termination market.

Italian NRA launches consultation on fixed call termination rate

AGCOM launched its consultation (in italian) concerning the fixed call termination rate.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

European DPAs request from Google to modify its privacy policy

"After several months of investigation led by the CNIL into Google's new Privacy Policy that came into force on March 1, the EU Data Protection authorities publish their common findings. They recommend clearer information of the users and ask Google to offer the persons improved control over the combination of data across its numerous services. Finally, they wish that Google modifies the tools it uses to avoid an excessive collection of data." (see French DPA's press release, letter addressed to google and annex on recommendations).

OFT issues new Competition Act procedural guidance

"The OFT today set out new decision-making processes and procedural enhancements to boost the speed and robustness of Competition Act 1998 (CA98) investigations and increase engagement with parties involved.

The updated guidance on CA98 procedures follows a consultation process launched in March 2012. It updates the OFT's guidance originally published in March 2011, including by providing for:
  • Collective decision-making, with final decisions on infringement and penalty to be taken by a three person 'case decision group'. 
  • In cases where the OFT is considering finding an infringement and imposing a financial penalty, the ability for parties to make representations on key elements of the OFT's proposed penalty calculation, after they have made representations on matters of substance, but ahead of the final decision being taken.
  • More interactive oral hearings, to provide greater opportunity for direct dialogue between parties to an investigation and the decision-makers on the case, as well as additional 'state of play' meetings. 
  • Publishing case opening notices and case-specific administrative timetables on the OFT's website to improve transparency of ongoing CA98 investigations.
As part of the follow up from its March consultation, the OFT is also extending the trial of its Procedural Adjudicator role until the OFT's CA98 enforcement powers transfer to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April 2014. It believes that its trial of a Procedural Adjudicator role, which started in March 2011, has been a success to date, resolving disputes in relation to certain procedural issues in a swift, efficient and cost-effective manner" (see press release).

Joint Venture between Vodafone Limited and Telefónica UK Limited, approved by the OFT

The JV, between Vodafone and Telefonica, was approved by the OFT, to which passive infrastructure will be passed by the two operators (see decision).

OFT launches supplementary consultation on leniency review

"The OFT today announced a supplementary consultation for its leniency review on a further policy option of not requiring legal professional privilege (LPP) waivers as a condition of leniency in cartel cases, even if there is a related criminal cartel investigation. 

It also proposes the use of independent counsel to advise the OFT on the merits of LPP claims made by a leniency applicant in some situations" (see press release).

UK's privacy watchdog issues cloud computing guidance

"The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidelines to businesses today to underline that companies remain responsible for how personal data is looked after, even if they pass it to cloud network providers.

...

...The guide gives tips including:
  • Seek assurances on how your data will be kept safe. How secure is the cloud network, and what systems are in place to stop someone hacking in or disrupting your access to the data?
  • Think about the physical security of the cloud provider. Your data will be stored on a server in a data centre, which needs to have sufficient security in place.
  • Have a written contract in place with the cloud provider. This is a legal requirement, and means the cloud provider will not be able to change the terms of the service without your agreement.
  • Put a policy in place to make clear the expectations you have of the cloud provider. This is key where services are funded through adverts targeted at your customers: if they’re using personal data and you haven’t asked your customers’ permission, you’re breaking data protection law.
  • Don’t forget that transferring data internationally brings a number of obligations – that includes using cloud storage based abroad." (see press release).

UK Operators form JV, ensuring clear reception of Freeview TV signals following the roll out of 4G mobile services in the 800 MHz

"EE, Telefónica O2, Three and Vodafone announce that they have made further progress in speeding up the deployment of 4G mobile phone services in the 800 MHz frequency band vacated by the Digital Switchover. Following recent constructive work with Ofcom and DCMS Ministers, the four mobile phone companies have formally created one of the key institutions required to ensure the rapid roll-out of 4G services next year.

The four operators have formed a jointly controlled company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, originally called MitCo, and appointed Andrew Pinder as interim chairman. It will be responsible for ensuring that consumers continue to receive clear Freeview TV signals following the roll out of 4G mobile services in the 800 MHz spectrum band from the Spring of next year. Deployment of 4G services in other frequency bands does not require similar measures to be put in place.

Creating the company now will further accelerate the rollout of competitive 4G services next year. It will be funded by the successful bidders for 800MHz spectrum in the forthcoming auction and provisions exist to make sure that if any other party acquires some of this spectrum in the auction they can immediately become a shareholder in the company" (see OFCOM's and DCMS' press releases).

OFCOM decides the introduction of Next Generation Text Relay

"1.1 This Statement presents our decision to amend General Condition 15 in order to require communications providers (both fixed and mobile) to provide access for their customers to an improved relay service, which we have called Next Generation Text Relay (NGTR). We are also revoking Universal Service Condition 4, which requires BT to fund a text relay service and provide wholesale access to users of other communications providers" (see related page).

Dispute related to to BT’s POLOs for 0845 call termination, brought before OFCOM

"This dispute concerns the way in which BT has calculated its POLOs to CW UK for 0845 calls originating on or transiting BT’s network and terminating on CW UK’s network.  Calls to 0845 numbers are within the category of calls referred to as Number Translation Service (“NTS”) calls, which are the subject of a condition imposed on BT under section 45 of the Act.

BT has Significant Market Power (“SMP”) in the wholesale call origination market, and is subject to the NTS call origination condition which requires BT to originate and to retail NTS calls on behalf of the terminating operator. Under the condition, BT is obliged to pay to the terminating operator the net retail revenue it receives from NTS calls originating on or transiting its network, less certain deductions which are set out in SMP Condition AAA11. These payments are known as POLOs.

CW UK alleges that since November 2009, BT has not fairly calculated in its POLOs the amount of 0845 retail revenue payable to CW UK. CW UK believes that BT, in its calculation methodology, has failed to properly apportion and allocate the retail revenue from call allowance fees and line rental that BT has received for its inclusive call packages. These packages include an inclusive call allowance that can be used to make 0845 calls" (see related page).

OFCOM issues provisional decision on dispute related to BT's SIA

"1.1 This document (the Provisional Conclusions) sets out for comment the main elements of our provisional reasoning and assessment of the matters in dispute.

1.2 This dispute (the Dispute) has been brought separately by Everything Everywhere Limited (EE), Hutchison 3G UK Limited (H3G) and Telefnica UK Limited (O2)  (collectively the MNOs) against British Telecommunications plc (BT). It concerns Paragraph 12 of BT's SIA and the rights this confers on BT to introduce changes to charges for BT services or facilities supplied under BTs SIA, as compared to the rights that Paragraph 13 confers on Communication Providers (CPs) such as the MNOs to introduce changes to charges for their services supplied under the SIA.

1.3 The SIA provides BT's standard terms for the provision of interconnection for telephony. The SIA sets out the contractual obligations of each party, where a CP connects its public electronic communications network (PECN) to that of BTs, allowing calls to pass between the different networks. The SIA includes, amongst other things, mechanisms for either party to make changes to charges for these services and facilities.

1.4 Under Paragraph 12 of the SIA, BT does not need to obtain a CPs consent to change its charges. BTs new charges can take effect 28 days from notification for unregulated services (and up to 90 days for regulated services). Paragraph 12 does not include a provision for CPs to propose changes to BTs existing charges.

1.5 In contrast, under Paragraph 13, CPs may only propose an alteration to a charge to BT. A proposed alteration will not take effect unless BT consents, or if it is endorsed by Ofcom following reference of a dispute. Paragraph 13 does not specify when a CPs new charge becomes effective, however, an implementation period of 56 days is set out in BTs Charge Change Manual. In addition, Paragraph 13 allows BT to propose variations to a CPs charges.

1.6 The MNOs contend that BTs ability to unilaterally change its prices under Paragraph 12, and the absence of an equivalent provision under Paragraph 13, or the ability to propose changes to charges for BTs services, creates an imbalance between the rights of the contracting parties that is unfair and unreasonable.

1.7 In referring the Dispute to us, the MNOs have asked us to determine that there should be an amendment to the SIA, such that the imbalance is removed with BT being required to seek agreement of its proposed price changes before they take effect.

1.8 BT considers that the arrangements are justified in practical terms, as BT is the only operator with an end-to-end connectivity obligation  and advises that the current arrangements are supported by many smaller CPs, who rely on BTs transit services for much of their traffic.

1.9 We have also had a number of submissions from third parties, including some CPs who argue that the current arrangements should not be changed to reflect the MNOs proposals as a result of this Dispute.

Ofcoms Provisional Conclusions of the matters in dispute

1.10 We have considered both the potential benefits and detriments of the current position, taking account of the matters that respondents have raised.

1.11 In our provisional view, on balance we have not seen sufficient evidence that the terms of Paragraphs 12 and 13 of the SIA create detriments in practice for consumers and competition that lead us to conclude that they are not fair and reasonable. Accordingly, we do not believe that we should exercise our dispute resolution powers to determine that the terms of the SIA should be
changed " (see related page).

Commission's sends SOs to microsoft over browser choice case

"The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to comply with its commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser. In 2009, the Commission had made these commitments legally binding on Microsoft .... The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.

In its statement of objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to roll out the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011. From February 2011 until July 2012, millions of Windows users in the EU may not have seen the choice screen. Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.

In December 2009, the Commission had made legally binding on Microsoft commitments offered by the US software company to address competition concerns related to the tying of Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer, to its dominant client PC operating system Windows .... Specifically, Microsoft committed to make available for five years (i.e. until 2014) in the European Economic Area a "choice screen" enabling users of Windows to choose in an informed and unbiased manner which web browser(s) they wanted to install in addition to, or instead of, Microsoft's web browser. The choice screen was provided as of March 2010 to European Windows users who have Internet Explorer set as their default web browser.

The Commission had opened proceedings to investigate the potential non-compliance with the browser choice commitments on 16 July 2012" (see press release).

Commission clears Bulgarian Telecommunications Company's acquisition byVTB and Bulgarian Corporate Commercial Bank

"The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control by OAO VTB Bank (''VTB'', the Russian Federation) and Corporate Commercial Bank AD (''Corporate Commercial Bank'', Bulgaria) of the undertaking Bulgarian Telecommunications Company AD (''Bulgarian Telecommunications Company'', Bulgaria). VTB is a financial institution active internationally. Corporate Commercial Bank is a financial institution active in Bulgaria" (see the Commission's midday express).

Commission refers Belgium back to Court over "must carry" case

"The European Commission is asking the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to impose a fine on Belgium because it has not correctly implemented EU telecom rules when awarding "must-carry" status to broadcast content, even after the Court's judgement of March 2011. ... The Commission is suggesting a lump sum calculated on the basis of €5397/day for the period between the first and eventual second Court ruling and a daily penalty payment of €31 251.20 for each day after the second Court ruling until Belgium complies with the judgment" (see the press release).

Commission issues Communication on online gambling

The European Commission unveiled its action plan on online gambling, "with a series of initiatives over the next two years aimed at clarifying the regulation of online gambling and encouraging cooperation between Member States" (see the Communication and press release).

Friday, 19 October 2012

EETT approves anew OTE's vdsl retail prices

In a recent post, we mentioned that the incumbent expressed its objections on the NRA's retail vdsl decision and the condition atteched to it. EETT, responded positively to OTE's newly notified data, and approved anew the retail prices, so far no margin squeeze takes place and an effective virtual unbundling product is in place for the other operators. It remains to be seen how the alternative operators will respond and when will OTE put its commercial offer in effect (see EETT's press release, in greek).

Greek NRA consults on mobile call termination BU pure LRIC model

EETT launched its consultation the new economic model to be adopted as regards mobile call termination (see press release, in greek).

Greek NRA consults on amendment of General Authorisations Regulation

EETT launched its consultation on the amendment of the General Authorisations Regulation (see press release, in greek).

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Court decides in Football Dataco case

The CJEU, delivered its judgment in Case C-173/11, the operative part of which reads as follows:

"Article 7 of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases must be interpreted as meaning that the sending by one person, by means of a web server located in Member State A, of data previously uploaded by that person from a database protected by the sui generis right under that directive to the computer of another person located in Member State B, at that person’s request, for the purpose of storage in that computer’s memory and display on its screen, constitutes an act of ‘re-utilisation’ of the data by the person sending it. That act takes place, at least, in Member State B, where there is evidence from which it may be concluded that the act discloses an intention on the part of the person performing the act to target members of the public in Member State B, which is for the national court to assess."

CJEU rules Austrian data protection authority not independent

The Court found in Case C-614/10 as stated in the operative part of the judgement:

"1.     ... that, by failing to take all of the measures necessary to ensure that the legislation in force in Austria meets the requirement of independence with regard to the Datenschutzkommission (Data Protection Commission), more specifically by laying down a regulatory framework under which
–        the managing member of the Datenschutzkommission is a federal official subject to supervision,
–        the office of the Datenschutzkommission is integrated with the departments of the Federal Chancellery, and
–        the Federal Chancellor has an unconditional right to information covering all aspects of the work of the Datenschutzkommission,

the Republic of Austria has failed to fulfil its obligations under the second subparagraph of Article 28(1) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data;"

See also EDPS' press release.

BEREC's Opinion on revision of Broadband State Aid Guidelines

BEREC's issued its Opinion on the revision of the Broadband State Aid Guidelines.

Commission proposes to update the Radio Equipment Directive

"The European Commission has today proposed to update the Radio Equipment Directive. The proposal aims to make sure all market players comply with the rules regarding the avoidance of interference, so that consumers do not have problems when opening car doors, monitoring their babies or listening to radio. The Commission also proposes to clarify and simplify the Directive, to facilitate its application and to eliminate unnecessary burden ultimately increasing all stakeholders' confidence in the regulatory framework. 

...

The Commission proposes:
  • to strengthen the level of compliance with the Directive, ensuring that citizens have access to radio products which operate without interference. For example, market surveillance and customs officers could better check the safety of products using more effective tools.
  • to clarify the directive, in particular clearly spelling out the obligations for every market player, be it manufacturer or importer, and also by limited adaptations of scope.
  • to simplify the directive, including through suppression of notification of certain products and other administrative obligations. The new directive would be aligned with the New Legislative Framework for products ... which makes the overall regulatory framework for products more consistent and easier to apply.
The proposal would also introduce some specific requirements, such as:
  • ensuring that software can only be used with radio equipment after the compliance of that particular combination of software and the radio equipment has been demonstrated;
  • interoperability with accessories such as chargers, and/or work via networks with other radio equipment." (see the press release and relevant page).

Commission consults on Relevant Markets list

"The European Commission has launched a public consultation with a view to updating the current list of relevant wholesale and retail telecoms markets subject to the Commission's "Article 7" procedure under EU telecoms rules ... These markets include retail access to the public telephone network and wholesale broadband access. Having a list of relevant markets helps National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) regulate their markets in a coordinated manner. The review will take into account major market and technological developments, such as internet-based applications and services, the convergence between different types of networks and services and the development of very fast internet networks and services. Based on its results, the Commission will then revise the current Recommendation on Relevant Markets which was last updated in 2007. The Commission invites interested parties to respond to the consultation by 8th January 2013" (see press release and consultation's relevant page).

Commission's Art. 7 Comments to UKE on the issue of access to ducts and facility sharing

The European Commission made the following comments, in its decision, addressed to the Polish NRA, concerning the latter's decision to introduce a stand-alone and out of the relevant market reviews, obligation of access to ducts and facility sharing:

"Access to ducts on the basis of Article 12 of the Framework Directive
 

The Commission recognizes that access to existing civil engineering infrastructure may facilitate roll-out of Next Generation Access networks. As recently announced the Commission is encouraging the greater re-use and sharing of duct infrastructure as the main measures to reduce the costs of NGA roll-out. In fact, the Commission has constantly recalled that access to ducts could be an important part of a remedy imposed to address problems associated with physical network access. In principle, access to ducts may prove to be a less intrusive measure than access to dark fibre, and under certain circumstances it may be economically feasible and technically possible for alternative operators to lay down their own fibre lines. Mandating access to ducts may thus encourage alternative operators to climb the ladder of investment instead of relying on the incumbent's dark fibre or active products. Facilitating the access to ducts is likely to support the roll-out of broadband networks in Poland and consequently, to reach objectives of social cohesion and economic growth as set out in the Digital
Agenda for Europe.
 

The Commission notes that UKE's regulatory aim is to ensure effective and efficient utilisation of existing duct infrastructure. The Commission recalls that, imposition of infrastructure sharing obligations according to Article 12 of the Framework Directive must comply with the principle of proportionality and must meet the requirements provided in that Article. Such requirements would be met if the operators are deprived of access to viable alternatives because of the need to protect the environment, public health and security or to meet town and country planning objectives.
 

While the Commission considers that the requirements set out in Article 12 of the Framework Directive have been met, UKE's main regulatory objective - the efficient and rational utilisation of (all) existing duct infrastructure - will not be achieved merely by the imposition of access obligations on only one, out of many, telecommunication operators. Therefore, the Commission would like to call on UKE to impose duct sharing obligation on other operators, as far as they also own or control similarly suitable duct infrastructure.
 

Indefeasible rights of use of duct infrastructure

The Commission notes that UKE proposes to introduce a specific type of access to ducts based on indefeasible rights of use, for the specific purpose of state aid and/or EU funded network roll-out projects. The specific type of access is characterised by long-term lease (15-25 years), up-front payment of rent for the entire contract duration, additional safeguards against revocation of access rights, and further sub-letting.
 

The Commission notes that the need for such specific type of access to ducts seems to be motivated not by real requirements of the telecommunication operators, but rather stems from administratively imposed strict conditions relating to qualification of costs for the purpose of state aid and/or EU funded projects. The Commission further notes that such strict conditions, amounting to administrative barriers, are not based on any binding provisions of EU law nor binding provisions of national Polish legislation, but result from administrative decisions of local/regional government authorities. While the Commission does not question the need for long-term contracts for access to ducts and their stability (protection against one-sided revocation of access rights), the introduction of this specific type of access appears to be artificial and not based on an economic assessment, but rather on a need to address administratively created barriers to investments. The Commission would like to draw UKE's attention to the fact that the need for access to ducts on the basis of IRU would not have arisen, but for restrictively drafted conditions for participation in projects co-funded with state aid and/or EU funds.
 

The Commission considers that in principle the imposition of access to ducts on the basis of IRU does not seem to contravene the EU regulatory framework. However, it is proposed to underline that the measure has to respect the regulatory principles set out in Article 8 of the Framework Directive, in particular the principle of non-discrimination and proportionality."

EP's ECON backs Common European Sales Law

"European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding today welcomed a vote by the European Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee (ECON) to support the Commission's proposals for a Common European Sales Law to facilitate cross-border trade in the Single Market .... The Committee voted to back the new optional contract rules for consumers and businesses in cross-border sales in its opinion on the proposed legislation.

The Commission's proposal of 11 October 2011 aims to help break down barriers to trade resulting from divergent national sales laws and give consumers more choice and protection when shopping across borders. It will facilitate trade by offering a single set of rules for cross-border contracts in all 27 EU countries. If traders offer their products on the basis of the Common European Sales Law, consumers would have the option of choosing a user-friendly contract law regime with a high level of protection with just one click of a mouse. Traders who are dissuaded from cross-border transactions due to contract law obstacles forgo at least €26 billion in intra-EU trade every year.

The Committee's opinion will help to establish a common position by the European Parliament. The Parliament's Legal Affairs (JURI) and Internal Market (IMCO) Committees are meanwhile preparing reports due to be finalised in the coming months" (see press release).

EDPS comments on DG Connect's consultation on Network and Information Security strategy

EDPS comments on DG Connect's consultation on Network and Information Security strategy.

Art. 29 WP's Opinion 08/2012 providing further input on the data protection reform discussions

Art. 29 WP's Opinion 08/2012 providing further input on the data protection reform discussions.

Commission approves Italian nga plan for Sardegna

"The European Commission has found an Italian project to finance a high speed broadband network in Sardinia to be in line with EU state aid rules. The cost for the project, known as BULGAS/FIBRESAR, will be reduced through cost-saving opportunities offered by concomitant civil works for the rollout of a gas distribution network in the same region. The Italian authorities intend to lay a next generation fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network for the public administration alongside the gas distribution network and to make it available to commercial operators to offer advanced connectivity services to citizens and business in Sardinia. The Commission's investigation found in particular that the project covers areas that are not profitable for commercial investors, grants effective and non-discriminatory wholesale access to the network, reuses existing infrastructures, does not favour any given technology and ensures a structural separation between the network wholesale manager and the retail operators, in line with the EU broadband guidelines .... The measure is an example of good practice for the rollout of such next generation networks, where the most discouraging element for commercial investors is represented by the high costs for civil works" (see the Commission's midday express).

EDPS Opinion on the Commission's proposal for a Regulation on trust and confidence in electronic transactions

EDPS issued its Opinion on the Commission's proposal for a Regulation on trust and confidence in electronic transactions.

Commission's guidelines on state aid for firms in difficulty prolonged

Commission prolongs guidelines on state aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty (see press release).

DG Comp issues practical guidance on GBER

DG Comp issued a FAQ document on the application of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER).

EDPS comments on DG MARKT's consultation on procedures for notifying and acting on illegal content hosted by online intermediaries

EDPS comments on DG MARKT's consultation on procedures for notifying and acting on illegal content hosted by online intermediaries.

Greek Ministerial Decision on internal wiring

The Ministerial Decision on the specifications concerning inside buildings telcoms wiring has been signed (see Ministry's press release, in greek).

Greek Ministry consults on ITRs

The Ministry of Development launched its consultation on the draft plan of revision of the ITRs (see press release, in greek).

Greek digital frequency map decided

The Greek digital frequency map has been approved and published in the National Gazette (in greek).

Thessaloniki's digital switch over

The 2nd biggest greek city, has entered the dtv era (see the relevant Ministerial Decision, and Ministry's press release, all in greek).

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Sep. '12 updt: FCC launches incentive auction process

FCC launches incentive auction process (see NPRM and press release).

Sep. '12 updt: OFCOM extends Mux B license for a further 12 year period

"1.1 In 2002, Ofcom awarded a licence under the Broadcasting Act 1996 (the "1996 Act" and the "Mux B Licence") for the operation of digital terrestrial television ("DTT") multiplex known as Multiplex B to BBC Free-to-View Limited ("BFtV"). This licence is due to expire in November 2014. Under the provisions of the 1996 Act the licensee may apply to renew its licence for a further period of 12 years.

1.2 In February 2012, Ofcom received an application from BFtV to renew the Mux B Licence. Under section 16 of the 1996 Act, when considering whether or not to renew a television multiplex licence, Ofcom has to decide whether to require additional obligations relating to: (a) the coverage of the service; and/or (b) promoting the acquisition of digital terrestrial television ("DTT") receiving equipment. Ofcom also has to decide whether to require the licensee to make additional payments, in the form of a percentage of multiplex revenue.

1.3 Following consultation we have decided that it is appropriate to renew the Mux B Licence for a further 12 year period and that we will not require any additional obligations in respect of coverage of the promotion of DTT equipment in the renewed licence" (see relevant page).

Sep. '12 updt: OFCOM consults on charge control in narrowband market

OFCOM consults on chrage control in narrowband market (see relevant page).

Sep. '12 updt: German regulators issue new guidelines on the retention of traffic data

"The Bundesnetzagentur and the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information presented joint guidelines in Hamburg today on the retention of traffic data by telecoms providers in compliance with data protection requirements" (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Cypriot Commission of Data Protection issues Annual Report

Cypriot Commission of Data Protection issues Annual Report (in greek).

Sep. '12 updt: Finnish Government adopts Communications Policy Programme for Electronic Media

"Today ... the government adopted a Communications Policy Programme for Electronic Media to be submitted to the Parliament as a report. The report takes a position on such issues as granting operating licences, frequency band use and criteria for programme content. It proposes that an adequate transfer period should be granted for the switch of the terrestrial television network to full use of high-definition technology" (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Norwegian regulator releases 2GHz draft auction rules

Norwegian regulator releases 2GHz draft auction rules (see relevant page).

Sep. '12 updt: Commission releases Cloud Computing Strategy

Commission releases Cloud Computing Strategy (see Communication, Working Document and dedicated website).

Sep. '12 updt: Commission clears German regional nga state aid plan

Commission clears German regional nga state aid plan (see letter).

Sep. '12 updt: Commission clears Spanish nga state aid plan for the region of Rioja

Commission clears Spanish nga state aid plan for the region of Rioja (see letter).

Sep. '12 updt: BEREC issues and consults on series of documents

BEREC issues and consults on series of documents, namely:

- its draft 2013 work programme.

- on art. 28(2) of the Universal Service Directive (see relevant page).

- on the revised BEREC Common Positions on Wholesale Local Access, Wholesale Broadband Access and Wholesale Leased lines (see relevant page).

Monday, 15 October 2012

Sep. '12 updt: FCC forbears from applying prohibition on cable-CLEC mergers

By forbearing to apply the prohibition on cable- CLEC mergers, the FCC expects to stimulate more infrastructure-based competition (see order and Genachowski's, Mc Dowell's and Pai's press releases).

Sep. '12 updt: AG delivers Opinion in Stanleybet case

AG Mazak delivered his opinion in Joined Cases C‑186/11 and C‑209/11, the conclusions of which read as follows:

"74.      For the reasons given above, I propose that the questions referred by the Symvoulio tis Epikrateias (Greece) should be answered as follows:"
–        Articles 49 and 56 TFEU must be interpreted as meaning that national legislation which grants the exclusive right to run, manage, organise and operate games of chance to a single undertaking which has the form of a public limited company and is listed on the stock exchange may be justified to the extent that that legislation actually pursues the objective of restricting the supply of games of chance or the objective of combating criminality related to gambling by channelling players into controlled systems and that it genuinely reflects a concern to attain those objectives in a consistent and systematic manner. It is for the national court to determine which of those objectives is in fact pursued by the national legislation at issue and whether that legislation genuinely meets the concern to attain that objective in a consistent and systematic manner. More particularly, in so far as the national court holds that the relevant objective of the national legislation at issue is that of restricting the supply of games of chance in Greece, that court cannot conclude that that legislation genuinely reflects a concern to attain that objective in a consistent and systematic manner if it finds that the holder of the monopoly actually pursues an expansionist policy and that the exclusive right granted to it results in an increase in the supply of games of chance rather than in a reduction. By contrast, in so far as the national court identifies the combating of criminality related to gambling by channelling players into authorised and regulated circuits as being the sole objective pursued by the national legislation at issue, a policy of expansion by the holder of the monopoly, characterised, inter alia, by the expansion of the supply of games of chance and by the advertising of those games, can only be considered as consistent to the extent that there is actually a problem of criminal and fraudulent activities on a significant scale linked to gambling in Greece which could be dealt with by the expansion of authorised and regulated activities. Moreover, the expansion of the supply of games of chance and the advertising of those games must, firstly, remain measured and strictly limited to what is necessary in order to channel consumers towards controlled gaming networks and, secondly, the supply of games of chance by the holder of the monopoly must be subject to strict control by the public authorities;
–        to the extent that, according to the findings of the national court, the national legislation at issue granting the exclusive right to run, manage, organise and operate games of chance is incompatible with Articles 49 and 56 TFEU, because it does not contribute to limiting betting activities or to channelling players into controlled systems in a systematic and consistent manner, that legislation cannot continue to apply during a transitional period."

Sep. '12 updt: French NCA issues decision and accepts undertakings offered by FT on net neutrality case

"France Télécom may ask to be remunerated for opening additional capacity but it must clarify the commercial and billing relationship between its Internet access and Internet transit businesses.

The transparency commitments made by France Télécom to the Autorité de la concurrence will facilitate the prevention and monitoring of potential margin squeezes in the future." (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: OFCOM decides that Sky is fit and proper to continue to hold its broadcast licence

"Ofcom has ... published a decision on its fit and proper assessment of Sky. Ofcom has an ongoing duty to be satisfied that all broadcast licensees are fit and proper.

In July 2011, in light of the public debate about phone hacking and other allegations, Ofcom confirmed that it had a duty to consider whether Sky was fit and proper to continue to hold its broadcast licences.

Ofcom considers that, on the evidence currently available and having taken into account all the relevant factors, Sky is fit and proper to hold its broadcast licences.

Ofcom’s duty to be satisfied that a licensee is fit and proper is ongoing. Should further relevant evidence become available in the future, Ofcom would need to consider that evidence in order to fulfil its duty" (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Belgian NRA consults on draft review of retail fixed telephony access market

Belgian NRA consults on draft review of retail fixed telephony access market (see related page).

Sep. '12 updt: Belgian NRA consults on Decree on number portability

Belgian NRA consults on Decree on number portability (see related page).

Sep. '12 updt: Portuguese Law trasposing ePrivacy Directive as amended by Citizens' Rights Directive, published

"Law no. 46/2012, of 29 August, transposes the part of Directive 2009/136/EC amending Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July, concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector, introducing the first amendment to Law No 41/2004, of 18 August, and the second amendment to Law No 7/2004, of 7 January" (see related page).

Sep. '12 updt: Commission's Art. 7 Comments to the Bulgarian NRA on its review of the leased lines markets

"...

On the basis of its analysis of the three criteria test CRC concludes that the markets for (i) retail leased lines; (ii) wholesale trunk segments of leased lines and (iii) wholesale terminating segments of leased lines above 8 Mbit/s are not susceptible to ex-ante regulation.

...

CRC decided that only the wholesale market for terminating segments of leased lines up
to and including 8 Mbit/s is non-competitive and proposes to designate the Bulgarian
Telecommunications Company AD (BTC) with SMP on this market.


...

Definition of two separate markets for wholesale terminating segments of
leased lines


The Commission notes that CRC itself demonstrates that, looking at the demand side, access seekers would switch from lower bandwidth to higher bandwidth leased lines if a hypothetical monopolist were to increase the price of the lower bandwidth connection products by a small but significant amount, e.g. by 10 %. The fulfilment of this test, accompanied by rapid decrease of BTC's market shares indicate that both types of leased lines are substitutable and should, in principle, belong to the same relevant product market.
 

The Commission recognises, however, the additional argument put forward by CRC, that the copper based leased lines of the incumbent operator constitute the only nationwide infrastructure. Therefore, a competitive constraint stemming from alternative providers, offering Ethernet based services, is possible only in those areas where BTC's infrastructure is replicated. The lack of replicability of the legacy network seems to be evidenced by the current pricing structure for terminating segments of leased lines, as provided by CRC, where copper lines are significantly more expensive than alternative interface terminating segments of leased lines, which are also provided by alternative operators. This evidences an ability of BTC to still act independently of its competitors in the low bandwidth market (up to and including 8 Mbit/s) as defined by the Bulgarian regulator.
 

Bearing in mind the current trend of sharply decreasing market shares of the incumbent, the Commission reminds CRC that alternative networks could eventually be able to also replicate effectively the legacy network of BTC, or demand may decrease to such an extent that certain low capacity leased lines become technically and economically redundant.
 

The Commission, whilst not contesting the current findings of CRC, therefore invites the latter to closely monitor the market with a special focus on the market segment of wholesale terminating segments of leased lines of up to and including 8 Mbit/s." (see the Commission's decision).

Sep. '12 updt: Commission gives out its proposed Regulation "on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market"

"The proposal for a Regulation "on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market" was adopted by the Commission on 4th June 2012. The proposal will now go through the ordinary legislative procedure for its adoption by co-decision of the European Parliament and the Council. The new framework for electronic identification and electronic trust services will: ensure mutual recognition and acceptance of electronic identification across borders; give legal effect and mutual recognition to trust services including enhancing current rules on e-signatures and providing a legal framework for electronic seals, time stamping, electronic document acceptability, electronic delivery and website authentication. This proposal represents the first milestone in the implementation of the objectives of the Legislation Team (eIDAS) Task Force set up by the Commission in order to to deliver a predictable regulatory environment for electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market to boost the user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world" (see the press release and the proposed Regulation).

Sep. '12 updt: European Commission, contrary to FTC's unconditional approval, clear's Universal's acquisition of EMI's recorded music business subject to conditions

"The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of EMI's recorded music business by Universal Music Group. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of EMI's Parlophone label and numerous other music assets on a worldwide level. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have allowed Universal to significantly worsen the licensing terms it offers to digital platforms that sell music to consumers. To meet these concerns, Universal offered substantial commitments. In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns anymore.

...

The proposed merger would bring together two of the four so-called global "major" record companies, leaving only three majors. The Commission had concerns that following the merger, Universal would enjoy excessive market power vis-à-vis its direct customers, who sell physical and digital recorded music at retail level. In particular, the Commission focussed its investigation on the markets where record companies license their music to digital retailers such as Apple and Spotify. 

The Commission found that the proposed transaction, as initially notified, would have increased Universal's size in a way that would likely have enabled it to impose higher prices and more onerous licensing terms on digital music providers. This could have negatively affected the possibilities for innovative providers to expand or launch new music offerings and would ultimately have reduced consumers' choice for digital music, as well as cultural diversity in the European Economic Area (EEA)

Commitments

To remove the Commission's concerns, Universal committed to divest significant assets.
These divestments include EMI Recording Limited, which holds the iconic Parlophone label (home to artists such as Coldplay, David Guetta, Lilly Allen, Tinie Tempah, Blur, Gorillaz, Kylie Minogue, Pink Floyd, Cliff Richard, David Bowie, Tina Turner and Duran Duran). The divestments also encompass EMI France (which holds the David Guetta catalogue), EMI's classical music labels, Chrysalis (home to The Ramones and Jethro Tull), Mute (home to Depeche Mode, Moby and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), various other labels and a large number of local EMI entities. The divestment package also includes Coop, a label licensing business selling artists such as Mumford and Sons, Garbage and Two Door Cinema Club.

In addition, Universal committed to selling EMI's 50% stake in the popular Now! That's What I Call Music compilation JV and to continue licensing its repertoire for that compilation in the next ten years.

Universal finally committed not to include Most Favoured Nation (''MFN'') clauses in its favour in any new or renegotiated contract with digital customers in the EEA for ten years. MFN clauses oblige digital customers to extend any favourable term granted to Universal's competitors to Universal. This commitment will allow Universal's competitors to negotiate more freely with digital customers and further levels the playing field between these competitors and Universal.

The rights to be divested are worldwide and cover both digital and physical music. This will ensure a viable and competitive exploitation of the divested artists and catalogue by the purchaser of the assets.

In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that competition on the digital music markets in the EEA will be adequately preserved and that the transaction will have no negative impact on consumers." (see the Commission's press release). 

On the other side of the Atlantic, the FTC closed its investigation, giving the green light without imposing any conditions (see the press release).

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sep. '12 updt: Greek NRA gives green light to incumbent's vdsl retail offer under conditions

EETT gave the green light to some of OTE's specific retail vdsl products (press release and decision, all in greek). However the attached conditions compelled OTE to express its discomfort (press release, in greek).

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sep. '12 updt: New number portability rules in effect in Portugal

New number portability rules in effect in Portugal (see ANACOM's press release).

Sep. '12 updt: French NCA issues report one-commerce sector inquiry

The French NCA has released its report on its e-commerce sector inquiry (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: UOKiK gives consent to ITI/CANAL+ joint satellite platform

"ITI and Canal+ will jointly set up a satellite platform. The President of UOKiK has issued two consents to implement transactions between these undertakings. Upon request of participants to the concentration, the case was referred by the European Commissionfor consideration of UOKiK.

...

 
In connection with the notified transaction, since April 2012 UOKiK has conducted two proceedings in concentration cases. One concerned the takeover of N-Vision by Groupe Canal+, which is to be exercised jointly with ITI Holdings. The second – taking control by Groupe Canal+ and TVN over the entity created by merging Canal+ Cyfrowy and ITI Neovision, which will allow for joining the activity of satellite platforms.

Groupe Canal+ belongs to the international group Vivendi. It operates mainly in France, and deals with the production, distribution and marketing of tv channels and services provided by any types of media platforms. In Poland it operates under a company Canal+ Cyfrowy, providing pay tv services available via the satellite platform Cyfra+. Additionally, it is a distributor of over 100 tv and radio channels, including these broadcast by companies of Vivendi group, e.g. Canal+, Ale kino, or Mini Mini+.

TVN is a dependent undertaking of N-Vision, dealing inter alia with broadcasting general use channels and licensing the paid ones such as TVN24 and TVN Turbo. Moreover, it controls a number of companies, including ITI Neovision, the operator of satellite platform n. Both N-Vision and TVN constitute a part of ITI Holdings capital group.

Taking a joint control by Groupe Canal+ over N-Vision will take place as a result of acquiring the minority package of shares amounting to 40% and certain rights entitling to exercise joint control. As regards the second transaction, the assets of Canal+Cyfrowy, following its transformation into a joint stock company, will be transferred to ITI Neovision for the exchange of shares in the increased initial capital.

The inspection of UOKiK revealed that concentrations will most powerfully affect the domestic markets of granting licenses to pay tv channels as well as access services to pay tv and tv commercial. However, none of these markets will experience the significant restriction of competition – participants of the transaction will have to compete with other entities. For this reason the President of the Office has given her consent to both concentrations" (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: ARCEP adopts its decision regulating the wholesale market for terrestrial television broadcasting services from 2012 to 2015

"On 11 September 2012, the Authority adopted a decision confirming that wholesale terrestrial television broadcasting services is a relevant market susceptible to ex ante regulation during the cycle that runs from 2012 to 2015, as well as operator TDF's significant power in this market. ARCEP has also defined the obligations of access, transparency and non-discrimination and the pricing obligations imposed on TDF as a result" (see related page).

Sep. '12 updt: AGCM investigates TI, Vodafone and Wind for collusion

The Italian NCA has launched its investigation into possible collusion between TI, Vodafone and Wind (see press release, in italian).

Sep. '12 updt: Maltese NRA consults on cost of capital estimating method

MCA has launched its consultation on its proposed decision revisiting the parameters making up the cost of capital calculation (see related page).

Sep. '12 updt: Finnish NRA to reassess SMP regulation and reform pricing assessment

"FICORA will reassess regulation based on significant market power (SMP) and begin to reform the assessment of pricing and its methods. The reassessment is based on the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court (KHO) of 27 July 2012 on Elisa Oyj's pricing of local loops. According to KHO, the calculation method used in the decision FICORA issued in 2010 was not in accordance with the Finnish Communications Market Act. FICORA's estimation of the impacts of KHO's decision on the assessment of the regulation and pricing of SMP is more extensive" (see FICORA's press release).

Sep. '12 updt: EU's Computer Emergency Response Team established

"The EU institutions have reinforced their fight against cyber threats by establishing the EU's Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT-EU, on a permanent basis. This decision follows a successful one-year pilot for the team, which drew positive assessments from clients and peers" (see Commission's press release, ENISA's press release and CERT-EU's page).

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sep. '12 updt: Portuguese NRA extends mobile broadband coverage for specific areas

"By determination of 31 August 2012, ANACOM approved the draft decision on the list of parishes as tend to lack mobile broadband coverage, for the purposes laid down in paragraphs 1 to 4 of article 34 of Regulation no. 560-A/2011 of 19 October (Regulation of the Auction for the allocation of rights of use of frequencies in the 450 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz bands)" (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Non-compliance by PTC regarding amendments to LLRO and RELLO

"By determination of 30 August 2012, ANACOM approved the decision on the failure of PT Comunicações, S. A. (PTC) to comply with the determination of 14 June 2012 concerning amendments to the Leased Lines Reference Offer (LLRO) and Reference Ethernet Leased Lines Offer (RELLO).

The amendments in question refer to changes in the pricing of 1920 Kbps and 1984 Kbps circuits under the LLRO, as introduced by PTC on 23 July 2012. PTC may, if it sees fit, state its position on this draft decision within 10 working days" (see NRA's press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Romanian 800, 900, 1800 and 2600MHz spectrum auctions concluded

"Following the spectrum auction held by ANCOM, 5 operators have won 485 MHz in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands, the radio frequencies suitable for broadband voice mobile communications and Internet. The amount of spectrum available for mobile communications increased by 77%.
 
Cosmote Romanian Mobile Telecommunications won 1 block in the 800 MHz band, 2 blocks in the 900 MHz band, 5 blocks in the 1800 MHz band and 2 blocks in the 2600 MHz (FDD) band, valid from 2014 through 2029, against the amount of €179,880,000 standing for the licence fee. Cosmote Romanian Mobile Telecommunications thus renewed its usage rights over the spectrum portfolio currently held and also increased it by 58%.
 
Orange Romania obtained 2 blocks in the 800 MHz band, 2 blocks in the 900 MHz band, 4 blocks in the 1800 MHz band and 4 blocks in the 2600 MHz (FDD) band, valid from 2014 through 2029. Furthermore, Orange Romania won short-term licences in the 900 MHz band – 5 blocks, respectively in the 1800 MHz band – 3 blocks, valid between 1 January 2013 and 5 April 2014. Orange Romania will benefit from licences for a spectrum portfolio which is by 84% larger than currently, against an amount of €227,135,002, representing the licence fee.
 
RCS&RDS won 1 block in the 900 MHz band, valid from 2014 through 2029, for which it will pay €40,000,000, representing the licence fee. With this licence in the 900 MHz band, RCS & RDS increased its spectrum portfolio by 29%.
 
Vodafone Romania obtained 2 blocks in the 800 MHz band, 2 blocks in the 900 MHz band, 6 blocks in the 1800 MHz band and 1 block of 15 MHz in the 2600 MHz (TDD) band, valid from 2014 through 2029. As well, Vodafone Romania won short-term licences in the 900 MHz band – 5 blocks, respectively 3 blocks in the 1800 MHz band, valid between 1 January 2013 and 5 April 2014. Vodafone Romania will benefit from licences for a spectrum portfolio which is by 78% larger than currently, against an amount of €228,520,034, standing for the licence fee.
 
2K Telecom won 2 blocks of 15 MHz in the 2600 MHz (TDD) band, valid from 2014 through 2029, for which it will pay €6,601,000, standing for the licence fee. 
 
The licence fees, which totalise €682,136,036, are to be paid until 30 November 2012, respectively until 30 June 2013, depending on the frequency blocks.
 
“With this auction, the mobile communications in Romania have entered a new era: the spectrum resources available to the operators grow by 77% and allow for introducing the 4G technology, whereas the 900 MHz band is more efficiently distributed. For operators, the results of the auction open the door to additional business opportunities and innovation, ensure the security of investments and an exceptional efficiency as regards the use of spectrum. For users, the auction brings access to 4 national networks, better coverage, higher data transfer speeds, more and better services provided at competitive prices, in general, all this in the context of a healthy competition. Due to all these reasons, I would say that, on our 10th celebration since the establishment of the regulatory authority in communications, we have successfully concluded the first auction which allows 4G in the Central and Eastern Europe”, Mr. Catalin Marinescu, the president of ANCOM, said during a press conference organised in order to announce the results of the spectrum auction.
 
The president of ANCOM has also announced that three of the spectrum winners, Cosmote Romanian Mobile Telecommunications, RCS & RDS and 2K Telecom, have undertaken the obligation to host MVNO, as well as that, for the first time ever in Romania, the operators that cover 30% of the population with their own radio access network may benefit from national roaming for at least three years. Moreover, the president of ANCOM has shown that, following this auction, 676 rural localities currently underserved with broadband mobile communications networks are to benefit with priority from coverage with HSPA, HSPA+ or LTE networks." (see ANCOM's press release).

Sep. '12 updt: OFT issues new guidance on penalties for competition law breaches

"The OFT has published new guidance on how it will set penalties for breaches of competition law. The guidance will allow the OFT to continue to set substantial penalties to deter anti-competitive activity while ensuring that penalties are proportionate in the specific circumstances of individual cases" (see press release).

Sep. '12 updt: AGCOM launches markets 1, 4 and 5 reviews

Italian NRA initiates its reviews of the retail fixed access, wholesale physical network infrastrucure access and wholesale broadband access markets (see press release, in italian).

Sep. '12 updt: UK Government cuts red tape and puts superfast broadband on fast-track

"Superfast broadband is key to boosting economic growth, making the country more competitive and creating jobs.  The Government is investing £680 million in superfast broadband - but the delivery of this vital business infrastructure is being held up by unnecessary bureaucracy in the planning system, jeopardising the country’s economic recovery.

Now a swathe of this red tape is to be swept away, clearing the way for the economic growth and for the UK to have the fastest broadband of any major European country.

Under the new plans:

  • broadband street cabinets and other infrastructure can be installed without the need for prior approval from the local council (except in Sites of Special Scientific Interest);
  • broadband companies will face less cost and bureaucracy in laying cables in streets; and
  • broadband cables and cabinets can be installed on or under private land without the bureaucratic burden of long-running negotiations" (see DCMS press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Commission's Art. 7 Comments to Slovenian NRA on its review of the mobile access and call origination market

The European Commission, had no comments to make in its decision addressed to APEK, on the latter's review of the mobile access and call origination market and specifically its decision, finding that the said market did no longer meet the three-criteria test.

Sep. '12 updt: Commission clears UK mPayment joint venture

"The European Commission has unconditionally approved, on the basis of the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed creation of a joint venture between Vodafone, Telefónica and Everything Everywhere in the field of mobile commerce in the UK.

...

The Commission’s preliminary investigation had indicated potential competition concerns in the nascent markets of mobile payment applications supply (so-called "mobile wallets"), mobile advertising and related data analytics services. On this basis, the Commission opened an in-depth inquiry on 13 April 2012 ....

As a result of its in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the joint venture will not likely lead to a significant impediment to effective competition in the EEA within the meaning of the Merger Regulation" (see Commission's press release).

Sep. '12 updt: Portuguese Law establishing universal service net cost published

"Law no. 35/2012, of 23 August, establishes a compensation fund for the electronic communications universal service, provided for in the Electronic Communications Law, for the financing of net costs arising from the provision of the universal service" (see ANACOM's press release).