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Welcome

In this bulletin, we provide an overview of recent communications regulatory developments in the EU and various countries across the globe. It aims to help operators and content providers in the technology and communications sectors to examine whether legal or regulatory action in a particular country is needed in view of their business interests.

 

At a European level, the European Commission has observed that national telecoms regulators have adopted significantly varying approaches when applying non-discrimination obligations.  These are the obligations relating to access for alternative operators to the infrastructure and services of dominant telecom operators.  Of concern is the difference in scope, application, compliance monitoring and enforcement of these obligations across all EU Member States.  The European Commission believes that these differences result in a lack of investment in new technologies and is detrimental to the evolution of the telecoms market and the ability of telecom operators to be active in several Member States.  The European Commission has therefore launched a consultation of the subject and ultimately intends to provide guidance to national regulators on the application, monitoring and enforcement of these non-discrimination obligations.

 

In addition, the Commission issued a report in June 2010 showing a lack of harmony amongst EU Member States on the costing approaches when setting cost-oriented wholesale access prices.  These are the regulated prices which alternative operators pay to access the infrastructure and services of dominant telecom operators.  The European Commission has now issued a public consultation on this topic with the objective of issuing guidance to national regulators on these costing methodologies.


The Commission has also issued a public consultation on the harmonisation of technical conditions for the terrestrial 2 GHz band across all EU Member States, to liberalise permitted uses of the band and promote wider utilisation by licence holders and therefore improve consumer benefits.  The European Commission is looking for comments from stakeholders by 18 January 2012 and intends to implement the harmonised technical conditions via a Commission Implementing Decision.


The draft EU Data Protection Rules revealed

 

The draft text of the new 'General Data Protection Regulation' is now circulating, ahead of its official publication date (due late January 2012). The draft Regulation as it stands promises greater harmonisation – but at the price of a significantly harsher regime, requiring more action by organisations and with tough penalties of up to 5% of worldwide turnover for the most serious data protection breaches. The General Data Protection Regulation is set to be accompanied by a new Directive, governing use of data by public authorities for law enforcement purposes, the draft text of which is also in circulation. The draft which we have seen appears to be a preliminary draft, released informally and without any confirmed status. The key changes which are envisaged by this draft Regulation are explained in the Bird & Bird Data Protection Newsflash, available at:

 

mail.twobirds.com/ve/ZZ82319191W67jG9292n97

December 2011, Feyo Sickinghe (the Netherlands) and Rhys Williams (UK)


Belgium.jpgBelgium

Regulation of the broadcasting and broadband market; Opening of the cable network: yes or no?
Benoit van Asbroeck/Edwige Cottenie/Raf Schoefs

The Conference of Electronic Communications Regulators (CRC) believes that competition failed to produce a satisfactory decrease in consumer prices and alternative operators cannot evolve adequately in a competitive market without access to a television product.  As a result, the CRC produced a draft decision at the end of 2010, introducing additional measures to regulate the broadcasting and broadband market in Belgium. Its plans would oblige Belgacom and the cable operators to allow alternative operators to compete more effectively in the markets for both cable and the xDSL (data via telephone networks). In particular, the (cable) operators would, upon request by another player, be obliged to provide access: 1) to their analogue TV programming, 2) to their digital TV platform and 3) to their broadband internet products.

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Czech.jpgCzech Republic

 

Czech Parliament to have final vote on the implementation of the Telecoms Reform Package

Vojtech Chloupek/Jiri Maly
On 6 December 2011, the Chamber of Deputies – the lower chamber of the Czech Parliament – will be voting on an amendment to the Act on Electronic Communications which implements the 2009 Telecoms Package. As the Chamber of Deputies has approved the amendment once already and now will be voting only on some minor changes made by the Senate, it is very likely it will be approved. The amendment should become effective on the first day of the next month following its publication, which is likely to be on or after 1 February 2012.


Finland.jpgFinland

 

Unifying Regulations for Electronic Communications in Finland

Pekka Raatikainen

The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication has launched a legislation project in order to streamline and unify regulation of electronic communications. The aim of the project, at this stage known as "Information Society Code" is to gather electronic communications regulation from several separate acts into one unified code.

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France.jpgFrance

 

France Telecom-Orange and SFR announce agreement for deployment of optical fibre beyond densely built-up areas

Katia Duhamel
The agreement establishes a deployment program which will cover 11 million homes outside densely built areas, located in 3500 municipalities throughout France. 9.8 million are located in urban areas where FT and SFR deployment projects overlap. To avoid duplication, the agreement indicates which operator is responsible for deployment in each municipality. Deployment works will begin in all municipalities between 2012 and 2015 and they will be completed at the latest in 2020. At the end of this period, SFR will have connected 2.3 million homes, and France Telecom-Orange 7.5 million.


Germany.jpgGermany

 

Implementation of 2009 EU telecommunications reform package delayed

Sven-Erik Heun/Valerian Jenny
German legislation for the implementation of the 2009 EU-telecommunications-reform package has been delayed by a disagreement between the two chambers of parliament, Bundestag and Bundesrat. While the Bundestag voted in favor of legislation to reform the German telecommunications act on 27th of October 2011, the Bundesrat, which is the upper house of parliament where the 16 German federal states (Bundesländer) are represented, voted on 25th November to forward the bill to the Vermittlungsausschuss, a committee with 16 members from each chamber of parliament to settle disagreements on legislative matters. The Bundesrat's opposition against the legislation does not primarily concern the implementation of EU telecommunications reform but rather a longstanding disagreement on matters of frequency administration and its relations with broadcasting legislation and administration. Broadcasting legislation and administration is a matter in the competence of the German Länder, and they wish to ensure that federal telecommunications regulation does not interfere with their political objectives in that field. Notably, the Bundesrat decided not to request the addition a clause on network neutrality to the legislation as had been proposed by one of its committees.

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Netherlands.jpgThe Hague

 

NRF implementation

Feyo Sickinghe
The legislative proposal for implementation of the revised EU telecoms directives is still in debate in the Senate. The proposal will not enter into force on January 1st, 2012, as previously predicted. Primarily, the debate relates to the amendments of the Second Chamber with respect to net neutrality, cookies, access to cable, per second charging and data breach notifications.


Hungary.jpgHungary

 

New tender for the 26 GHz band

Titusz Puskar
On 8 November 2011 the Office of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority of Hungary (Authority) announced a tender for the acquisition of frequency usage rights in basic blocks in the 26 GHz band.

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Italy.jpgItaly

 

Concluded auction for LTE/4G frequencies

Osvaldo Lombardi
On 29 September, the auction for the frequencies for LTE/4G mobile communications in Italy concluded. The process started on 27 June 2011 with the publication of the call for tenders on the following frequencies by the Communications Department of the Ministry for the Economic Development...


Poland.jpgPoland

 

The Polish Antitrust Office has fined all four Polish mobile operators more than PLN 113 million (€28 million) for participation in a cartel against DVB-H operator.

Piotr Dynowski, Filip Łukaszewicz
On 23 November 2011 the President of the Polish Antitrust Office (UOKiK) decided that four Polish mobile operators (Polkomtel, Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa, PTK Centertel, and P4) concluded an unlawful and competition-restricting agreement when they agreed their conduct against DVB-H operator (Info-TV-FM) who won the public tender for a DVB-H license. As a result, the UOKiK President issued fines totalling more than PLN 113 million for participating in an illegal cartel (EUR 28 million). Out of this amount PTK Centertel has to pay PLN 35 million, Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa PLN 34 million, Polkomtel PLN 33.4 million, and P4 PLN 10.7 million.

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singapore.jpgSingapore

 

Singapore Government Passes Amendments to the Telecommunications Act
Alban Kang & Oh Pin-Ping
Amendments to the Singapore Telecommunications Act were passed in November 2011 to give the Government greater power to regulate the telecommunications industry. 


Spain.jpgSpain

 

Release of digital dividend in Spain
Adela Gomez

The Spanish Government approved on 18 November an Action Plan (the Plan) that sets out the actions necessary to release the radio frequencies that constitute the so-called digital dividend. The ultimate goal of this measure is the provision of advanced electronic communications services by telecoms operators.

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Sweden.jpgSweden

 

Swedish mobile operators in joint venture regarding mobile payment services

Johan Tydén/Peter Eriksson

There are currently a number of players that would like to take a leading position in the market for mobile payments within Sweden. Not only are the major financial institutions and banks interested, but companies like Visa, MasterCard, Google and Apple are also working on new strategies and products in order to gain market shares in the growing mobile payment market in Sweden. In addition, there are a number of new companies entering the market, such as iZettle and Payair.


UK.jpgUK

 

UK spectrum auction shifted to Q4 2012 at earliest; EU 2 GHz consultation

Rhys Williams and Adriano Ros
Following an initial Ofcom consultation earlier this year on the proposals to auction spectrum in the 800 and 2600 MHz frequency bands, Ofcom has recently announced that it will conduct a further consultation (now expected in December 2011) in light of the controversy of some of the initial proposals and the strong response by some stakeholders to the initial consultation.  The auction will therefore be delayed from the planned Q1 2012 date to at least a Q4 2012 date.  The regulator does not believe this delay in the auction process will have a material impact on the availability of new services to consumers, however, as the new spectrum bands to be auctioned will not in any event be available until 2013.

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Contact Us


Marjolein Geus marjolein.geus@twobirds.com +31 (0)70 353 8800
Graeme Maguire graeme.maguire@twobirds.com +44 (0)20 7415 6000


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