First steps on the road to national implementation of the Code

By Feyo Sickinghe

08-2019

The Netherlands is running a consultation until 9 September 2019 on the national transposition of the Electronic Communications Code. This follows the publication on 16 July of a legislative proposal for the implementation. The proposal would result in important changes to the Telecommunications Act and broaden the scope of regulation for traditional telecoms operators, Over-The-Top providers, data centers and owners of public infrastructures.

In particular, the proposal extends and clarifies the scope of electronic communications services with respect to internet access services, interpersonal communications services and transmission services, including Machine-to-Machine and broadcasting, with the aim of ensuring that end-users enjoy the same end-to-end level of protection. Significant changes include:

  • Obligations with respect to universal services for broadband and traditional voice services will be supervised by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) instead of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate;
  • The term of spectrum licenses will be extended to 15 years. Rental of spectrum licenses will also be facilitated;
  • New rules will be set for the national and extraterritorial use of numbers for machine-to-machine communications;
  • Number portability will need to be facilitated as a standalone service separate from switching to another provider;
  • Access to public buildings and public infrastructure needs to be provided for small cells and the roll out of 5G, as well as shared use of network elements and associated facilities under the supervision of ACM;
  • For number independent interpersonal communications services like WhatsApp, interoperability obligations may be applicable.

One vital development is the introduction of powers for the ACM to mandate access to networks without significant market power, in cases where replicability issues arise. Mobile network operators may face additional obligations with respect to access, shared use or national roaming when considered necessary for local service provision to end-users.

With regard to end-user rights, the Code aims to achieve full harmonisation in the Member States. The legislative proposal contains new obligations with respect to cross-border access to services, easily readable contract summaries, monitoring mobile data usage, comparison of offers, duration and cancellation of contracts, quality of services and equivalent access for end-users with disabilities.

Our regulatory experts will monitor and compare the transposition in The Netherlands and various Member States in detail in order to identify national discrepancies for our clients. In a recent webinar, Bird & Bird experts from five different Member States discussed the scope and specific aspects of the Code. The webinar which was broadcast on 16 July is accessible here

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