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ETen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

eTen Programme: support for trans-European telecommunications networks

eTen is an essential component of the eEurope 2005 action plan and i2010 aimed at encouraging the development of electronic services, applications and content and speeding up the deployment of secure broadband Internet access.

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation No 2236/1995/EC of 18 September 1995 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks, [See amending acts].

Summary

The eTen Programme (known as TEN Telecom or trans-European telecommunications networks) was initially set up to support the interconnection of telecommunications infrastructure networks, and later in the area of establishment and development of interoperable services and applications and access to them.

Objectives

The objectives of eTen are as follows:

  • facilitating the transition to the information society, while providing experience on the effects of the deployment of new networks and applications on social activities;
  • improving the competitiveness of Community firms, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • strengthening economic and social cohesion, taking into account in particular the need to link island, land-locked and peripheral regions to the central regions of the Community;
  • accelerating the development of new growth-area activities leading to job creation.

Lines of action

To achieve these objectives, the programme supports the following broad lines of measures:

  • action aimed at increasing the awareness of individuals, economic operators and administrations of the benefits they can derive from the new advanced trans-European telecommunications services and applications;
  • action aimed at stimulating combined initiatives by users and providers to launch projects in the sphere of trans-European telecommunications networks;
  • aid to encourage public/private collaboration, in particular through partnerships;
  • stimulation of the supply and use of services and applications intended for small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • promotion of the interconnectivity of networks, and the interoperability * of broadband services and applications.

Projects of common interest supported

Support is granted to projects of common interest identified by the programme. These projects are in six thematic areas focusing on services for the general public:

  • on-line governmental services (“e-government”);
  • on-line health services (“e-health”);
  • encouraging the participation of older people and people with disabilities in the information society (“e-inclusion” *);
  • on-line learning (“e-learning”);
  • increasing user confidence and the security of the services available;
  • facilitating the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the e-economy.

Specific features of the programme

What distinguishes TEN-Telecom from other information society actions is its “preparation for roll-out” approach by supporting as a matter of priority, the phase involving the technical and economic feasibility of a project, and the phases involving the validation * and trans-national deployment * of a service. The validation phase is the critical point in a project since it involves the validation of assumptions made in terms of operational costs, potential income, savings and public benefit. The eTen Programme thus funds projects by helping them to move on from a business case (a good service idea) to the business plan (designed to put the idea into practice).

Beneficiaries

Consortia of a minimum of two legal entities from two different Member States from the enlarged EU can seek funding. The ideal consortium for a project funded by eTen includes all the players in the project’s value chain * that will be necessary for implementing the service, its set-up, deployment and operation.

Award criteria

Funding can only be granted if the project satisfies various criteria, including the following:

  • the proposed service must be based on a mature technology;
  • the project must be innovative and clearly involve problems such that it cannot be financed with private funds;
  • the service must be trans-European *;
  • the service must be in the common interest *.

The decision to grant Community assistance must also take into account:

  • the knock-on effect that Community assistance will have on public and private funding;
  • the soundness of the financial package;
  • the direct or indirect socio-economic effects, in particular on employment;
  • the environmental impact.

Funding

The level of support depends on the type of project. The programme can cover:
– up to 50 % of the costs of market validation for a project which has succeeded in demonstrating its technical and economic feasibility and benefit to end-users;
– up to 10 % until 2005 and up to 30 % since 2006 of the costs of initial deployment of the project, i.e. the launch costs.

Operation

The programme operates by means of calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The eTen programme generally launches calls for proposals once or twice a year. Each call refers to specific areas. The European Commission then selects the projects with the support of a committee of experts from the Member States.

Links with other Community programmes

eTen is coordinated with other Community programmes, in particular the information society technologies research programme (ISP Programme) and the programme for the electronic interchange of data between administrations (IDA). The Structural Funds’ programmes contain various measures targeted on the applications covered by the eTen work programme and the eEurope 2005 action plan assigns them a special role as regards high-speed access in the less-favoured regions.

Key terms used in the act
  • Value chain: this includes all participants involved in the deployment of a service, from the developers, through service and content providers, to users. It can comprise all types of entities such as commercial and public organisations, non-profit associations and citizens.
  • Deployment: the construction and operation of the application to offer the services in a real-life environment.
  • E-inclusion: e-inclusion (integration into the information society) is aimed at strengthening the European social model and addressing the specific needs of the disadvantaged, so that all citizens can benefit from the new opportunities offered by the information society. It promotes independence and accessibility for all.
  • Interoperability: the ability of two or more systems (devices, databases, services or technologies) to interact in accordance with a prescribed method.
  • Service of common interest: a service that is of widespread social or economic benefit.
  • Generic service: a conversational, messaging, retrieval or group service directly usable by a large number of users, which provides common tools for development and implementation of applications, whilst aiding their interoperability.
  • Trans-European: a project designed to satisfy needs existing in several Member States. As a general rule, projects carried out with eTen support must be carried out in several Member States, but implementation in a single Member State is allowed if the project contributes to a broader trans-European interest.
  • Market validation: all activities related to an application/service project aiming at evaluating its technical, economic and financial characteristics.

References

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation 2236/1995/EC[adoption: cooperation SYN/1994/0065]

24.09.1995

JO L 228 of 23.09.1995

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 1336/97/CE [adoption: consultation CNS/2000/0128]

11.07.1997

JO L 183 of 11.07.1997

Regulation EC No 1655/1999/CE [adoption: co-decision COD/1998/0101]

18.18.1999

JO L 197 of 29.07.1999

Decision 1376/2002/CE [adoption: co-decision 2001/0296/COD]

30.07.2002

JO L 200 of 30.07.2002

Related Acts

PROGRAMME EVALUATION

Communication of 3 June 2008 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Final evaluation of the eTEN programme [COM(2008) 334 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission gives a positive report of the eTen programme. It has allowed considerable knowledge and best practice in terms of deployment of services to be acquired through project implementation. Synergies have been created with the European Cohesion Fund.

The final evaluation notes, moreover, the success of the programme both in project management and the fulfilment of the obectives of growth, employment, social cohesion and greater participation in the knowledge economy.

The ICT strategic component of the “Innovation and Competitiveness” programme should extend the eTen programme and allow its results to be exploited effectively once all projects are completed at the end of 2009.

Commission report of 10 December 2001 on the implementation of Decision No 1336/97/EC on a series of guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks [COM(2001) 742 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report evaluates the programme during the first three years of operation since the new guidelines were adopted in 1997 until June 2000. It mentions a number of factors relating to the operation of eTen, including the profile of programme participants, project results and the state of deployment of completed projects. It also notes that it is difficult to evaluate the social and societal impact of the programme because of the small number of projects completed.

The Commission also makes a number of recommendations covering future strategies for the development of the programme. These recommendations include the following:

  • increased number of deployment projects;
  • increase in the number of projects involving public administrations;
  • granting of support for the interconnection and interoperability of networks necessary for the operation of a public interest service;
  • better coordination with, in particular the other programmes operating in the field of trans-European networks, the Structural funds, the IDA programme and the Socrates programme.

FOLLOW-UP REPORTS

Commission report – 1998 annual report pursuant to Article 16 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 of 18 September 1995 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial assistance in the field of trans-European networks [COM(1999)0410 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission report of 22 September 2000 – trans-European networks – 1999 annual report pursuant to Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial assistance in the field of trans-European networks [COM(2000) 0591 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission report of 1 July 2002 – trans-European networks 2000: annual report [COM(2002) 344 final – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission report of 7 August 2002 – trans-European networks: 2001 annual report [COM(2003) 0442 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Radio spectrum policy programme

Radio spectrum policy programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radio spectrum policy programme

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Radio spectrum policy programme (Proposal)

8a of Directive 2002/21/EC invites the European Commission to implement a five-year radio spectrum policy programme in order to manage it better.

Proposal

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 September 2010 establishing the first radio spectrum policy programme [COM(2010) 471 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Proposal aims to put in place a five-year radio spectrum policy programme. This Proposal forms part of a package of measures presented by the European Commission in September 2010 which includes a Communication on broadband and a Recommendation on Next Generation Access networks. This programme sets the parameters of the spectrum required for the functioning of the internal market, both in electronic communications and in other fields such as transport, research and energy.

Programme policy objectives

The objectives of the radio spectrum policy programme are to:

  • make sufficient spectrum available to satisfy growing needs;
  • maximise flexibility in the use of spectrum;
  • enhance the efficient use of spectrum;
  • promote competition between electronic communications services in particular;
  • harmonise the internal market and develop transnational services;
  • avoid interference and disturbances;
  • protect human health.

Enhancing the efficient and flexible use of spectrum

Member States are required to:

  • adopt by 1 January 2013 authorisation and allocation measures appropriate for the development of broadband services, such as allowing, for example, relevant operators direct or indirect access to contiguous blocks of spectrum of at least 10 MHz;
  • foster the collective use of spectrum as well as shared use of spectrum;
  • cooperate to develop harmonised standards for radio equipment and terminals;
  • adopt selection conditions and procedures which promote investment and efficient use of spectrum.

The European Commission shall develop guidelines on authorisation conditions and procedures for spectrum bands concerning infrastructure sharing and coverage conditions in order to avoid over-fragmentation of the internal market.

Promoting competition

In order to ensure fair competition in the market, Member States may adopt the following measures:

  • limiting the amount of spectrum for which rights of use are granted to any economic operator;
  • limiting the granting of new rights of use in certain bands in order to prevent certain economic operators from accumulating too many spectrum frequencies and harming competition;
  • prohibiting transfers of spectrum usage rights;
  • amending the existing rights of certain operators in cases of excessive accumulation, in accordance with Article 14 of Directive 2002/20/EC.

Defining spectrum for wireless broadband communications

Member States shall allocate a sufficient portion of spectrum for all European citizens to have access to broadband by 2020.

Member States shall authorise the use of harmonised bands by 2012 in order to allow consumers easy access to wireless broadband services.

Member States shall make the 800 MHz band (the digital dividend) available for electronic communications services by 2013, allowing for exceptions.

The Commission is invited to adopt measures to ensure that Member States allow trading within the EU of spectrum usage rights in the harmonised bands.

The Commission may ensure the availability of additional spectrum bands for the provision of harmonised satellite services for broadband access.

Responding to specific spectrum needs

In addition to communications, spectrum must be available for the following specific needs:

  • monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere and surface;
  • developing and exploiting space applications;
  • improving transport systems, for example through GALILEO;
  • services related to civil protection;
  • the results of research and development projects.

In order to save energy in spectrum use, the Commission shall conduct studies on creating a low-carbon policy and developing energy-saving technologies.

Creating an inventory of existing uses of and emerging needs for spectrum

The Commission, along with Member States, shall create an inventory of existing spectrum use and of future needs for spectrum with regard to the bands between 300 MHz to 3 GHz. This inventory should provide more transparency and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of spectrum use.

Participating in international negotiations and cooperating with different bodies

The Union shall participate in international negotiations relating to spectrum matters, in accordance with the rules of the Treaty, to defend its interests. In international negotiations, Member States shall ensure that the spectrum required for the development of EU policies is available.

Member States are required to ensure that the international agreements they sign up to are in accordance with EU legislation.

If required, the EU may provide political and technical support to Member States during bilateral negotiations with third countries.

The Commission and Member States must work closely with the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (ECPT), standardisation bodies and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) on technical issues in order to ensure the best use of spectrum outside the EU.

Reference

Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM(2010) 471

2010/252/COD

Third-generation mobile communications

Third-generation mobile communications

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Third-generation mobile communications

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Third-generation mobile communications

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 11 June 2002: “Towards the full roll-out of third generation mobile communications” [COM (2002) 301 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Third-generation mobile services (UMTS or “3G”) are only gradually becoming a commercial reality in Europe. Their roll-out – initially expected in 2002 – is taking place more slowly than originally planned and the great expectations associated with their introduction contrast starkly with the difficulties facing the sector.

This communication provides an overview of the situation in the 3G sector and examines the main challenges posed by the deployment of 3G services from a financial, technical, commercial and regulatory perspective. It also looks at the various lines of action being taken to support the deployment process and enable the Union to remain at the leading edge of technological progress, as recommended by the eEurope 2005 action plan.

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE DELAY IN THE ROLL-OUT OF 3G SERVICES

The roll-out of 3G services entails a complex interaction between different players: users, manufacturers, operators and software/content providers. Moreover, this divergent web of interests is highly dependent on general economic, technological and service trends, because of the wide range of activities resulting from the anticipated broad service range on offer. In this respect, the roll-out of 3G services will be far more complex than the deployment of the second generation (2G) of mobile communications.

A financial factor

The telecommunications market is still performing better than the general economy, with market growth of around 10% in 2001, to which the mobile sector contributed 40%. Despite this encouraging performance, the sector has nevertheless been facing increased pressure from the financial markets. Recently, operators in fact decided to make huge investments – notably in acquiring market shares and in future businesses such as 3G – leading to a sharp increase in their debt level and consequently a downgrading of their credit ratings.

The availability of investment funds was therefore significantly reduced, at a time when the physical roll-out of networks required significant financial resources. In this difficult financial environment, operators have had to give priority to re-balancing their finances. Logically, this trend has negatively affected the 3G roll-out.

A technological factor

Technical difficulties relating to 3G technology have been reported, particularly dropped calls, glitches in the terminal software and insufficient battery capacity. However, these technical difficulties are normal when introducing new products of considerable technological innovation.

Compared with 2001, considerable progress has been made as far as handsets are concerned, with the transition from prototypes to the development of the first 3G models ready to be marketed on the European market. Moreover, several manufacturers have announced the launch of 3G terminals with a “dual-mode” capability (2G + 3G) for the second half of 2002. This type of terminal will be essential for European consumers who are accustomed to a 2G service environment, especially since 3G coverage is expected to grow only gradually.

A regulatory factor

At the beginning of 2002, all the Member States had finalised or at least started 3G licensing procedures, as foreseen under the European Union’s regulatory framework. The 3G licensing procedures revealed various trends:

  • four Member States (France, Belgium, Greece and Luxembourg) did not succeed in attracting a sufficient number of interested parties to issue all available licences. In these Member States, part of the amount of spectrum made available for 3G therefore remains unused;
  • the roll-out obligations came under scrutiny in those countries where early coverage obligations proved to be incompatible with the availability of equipment or the realistic possibility for operators to roll out networks. In the case of Spain, Portugal and Belgium, this led to the deadlines for the roll-out of networks being postponed;
  • in other Member States (Sweden and Finland), operators complied with roll-out obligations, albeit by setting up minimal network configurations used for experimental purposes rather than for a commercial service.

LINES OF ACTION

The Commission identifies three lines of action to support the 3G services sector and to demonstrate its commitment to achieving the goal of a full roll-out of 3G.

Stability of the regulatory environment

The mechanisms of the new Community regulatory framework are adapted to evolving markets and technology. They should therefore promote the creation of a supportive environment for the roll-out of 3G.

The Member States will be responsible for ensuring essential adaptations to licensing conditions as well as the clarification of regulatory aspects relevant to new trends (such as network infrastructure sharing).

Short- or medium-term measures

A certain number of difficulties have been identified in the short or medium term, in respect of which a proactive, supporting or stimulating role at Community level is seen as beneficial.

Operators face considerable difficulties when deploying the physical networks. Obtaining the authorisation for installing base stations has become a real challenge in a number of Member States, and there is a risk that this will impact on the planned roll-out schedule and increase costs.

These difficulties are due to environmental concerns relating to the installation of new 3G masts, as well as to the uncertain consequences on health of electromagnetic emissions from base stations. Longstanding efforts have been taken at EU level to protect the health of 3G users and to harmonise the levels of emissions considered as safe. Nevertheless, this harmonisation at Member State level is taking a long time, which is not only hampering the sector but also creating confusion for consumers.

At the same time, the Commission has undertaken to develop technical specifications for safe mobile equipment. These specifications, which are already available in the form of harmonised standards for mobile terminals, are in the process of being finalised for base stations. The Commission reiterates that scientific research has shown that the normal use of mobile equipment which complies with the existing safety exposure limits does not seem to have adverse health effects.

Moreover, the Commission attaches great importance to continued research efforts to accompany the current development of 3G services and their future evolution. Some of the activities carried out under the Sixth Framework Programme for research will therefore be useful in the roll-out of 3G services. Finally it will be necessary for the Commission to identify the new regulatory obstacles relating to the introduction of 3G services. For example, the anticipated use of mobile terminals and in particular 3G services for micro-payments has raised the question of the extent to which regulation applicable to the banking sector is relevant to the mobile sector.

Long-term measures

Community action plays an important role in ensuring the timely and effective availability of harmonised spectrum bands for 3G operations. In this context, the Commission has already launched a planning process with a view to making sufficient radio spectrum resources available.

A more flexible framework for handling rights of use of spectrum is necessary in order to promote investment in the radiocommunications sector. Using the mechanisms provided for by the Radio Spectrum Decision, the Commission plans to establish a dialogue with industry and national regulators on secondary trading of radio spectrum and its implications. This dialogue would focus in particular on the harmonisation of spectrum trading conditions and the timetable for implementing these harmonised conditions in the Member States.

CONCLUSIONS

The Commission concludes that it is best to let the market drive the process and to allow a competitive environment to generate new products. Nevertheless, public authorities can contribute to the creation of a climate of confidence by ensuring a predictable and stable regulatory environment.

In the immediate future, they can facilitate the physical deployment of networks by harmonising conditions and accelerating procedures. In the longer run, harmonisation in licensing conditions and assignment would avoid market distortions and uncertainty in the sector.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 30 June 2004: “Mobile broadband services” [COM (2004) 447 final – not published in the Official Journal].
Technological and regulatory barriers are threatening European leadership in mobile broadband services and this communication looks at the challenges to be overcome in establishing a policy and regulatory framework for the sector’s development.

Commission Communication of 3 February 2004: “Connecting Europe at high speed: recent developments in the sector of electronic communications” [COM (2004) 61 final – not published in the Official Journal].
This communication stresses the need for long-term political support to promote the effective use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) within the European Union, and identifies measures designed to remove obstacles to additional investment.

Regulatory framework for electronic communications

Regulatory framework for electronic communications

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Regulatory framework for electronic communications

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

Regulatory framework for electronic communications

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (“Framework Directive”) [See amending acts].

Summary

The “Framework Directive” forms part of the “Telecommunications Package” designed to recast the existing regulatory framework for telecommunications in order to make the electronic communications sector more competitive. This new regulatory framework consists of this Directive plus four specific Directives, namely the:

  • Directive on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (the “Authorisation Directive”);
  • Directive on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (the “Access Directive”);
  • Directive on the universal service (the “Universal Service Directive”);
  • Directive on the processing of personal data (the “Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive”).

Added to this list, there is also the recent Decision on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy (the “Radio Spectrum Decision”). The “Telecoms Package” was amended in December 2009 by the two Directives “Better law-making” and the “Citizens’ rights”, as well as by a body of European regulators for electronic communications.

Scope, aim and definitions

The objective of this Directive is to establish a harmonised framework for the regulation of electronic communications networks and services. It also includes certain aspects of terminal equipment to facilitate access for disabled users. It contains horizontal provisions serving the other measures: the scope and general principles, basic definitions, general provisions on the national regulatory authorities (NRAs), the new concept of significant market power, and rules for granting certain essential resources such as radio frequencies, numbers or rights of way.

In response to the convergence of technologies and the need for horizontal regulation of all infrastructures, the new framework is no longer limited to telecommunications networks and services but covers all electronic communications networks and services. This includes fixed-line voice telephony, mobile and broadband communications and cable and satellite television. On the other hand, the content of services delivered over electronic communications networks, such as broadcasting content or financial services, is excluded, as is telecommunications terminal equipment to facilitate access for disabled users.

This Directive requires the adoption of national measures in terms of access to electronic communications with a view to respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons.

National regulatory authorities

Independence

Member States must guarantee the independence of national regulatory authorities (NRAs) by ensuring that they are legally distinct from and independent of all organisations providing electronic communications networks, equipment or services. The NRAs, responsible for the ex ante regulation of markets, must not accept instructions from any other body.

Right of appeal

Effective national mechanisms must allow any user or provider of electronic communications networks or services the right of appeal to an independent appeal body in the event of any disputes with an NRA. Member States shall provide information related to appeals to the Commission and to BEREC.

Impartiality and transparency

Member States must ensure that national regulatory authorities exercise their powers impartially and transparently. They must also ensure that the NRAs make arrangements for consultation of the interested parties if they intend to take measures which could have a significant impact on the market. The NRAs are responsible for making the results of the consultation public.

Consolidation of the internal market

The NRAs, the Commission and BEREC must cooperate to determine the instruments, as well as the most appropriate solutions, to deal with any situation which may arise within the internal market for electronic communications. In certain cases, the Commission has the power to refuse measures proposed by the NRAs.

Obligations and tasks of national regulatory authorities

General tasks

To promote competition in the provision of electronic communications networks and services, the NRAs are tasked, in particular, with:

  • ensuring that users derive maximum benefit in terms of choice, price and quality;
  • encouraging efficient use and management of radio frequencies and numbering resources.

The NRAs must also contribute to development of the internal market, in particular, by:

  • encouraging the establishment and development of trans-European networks and the interoperability of pan-European services;
  • cooperating with each other and with the European Commission to ensure the development of consistent regulatory practice and application of the new regulatory framework for the telecommunications sector.

Lastly, the NRAs must promote European public interests by:

  • ensuring that all citizens have access to a universal service, as specified in the “Universal Service Directive”;
  • ensuring the availability of simple and inexpensive dispute resolution procedures;
  • contributing to ensuring a high level of protection of personal data and privacy (the “Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive”).

Member States shall cooperate with each other, as well as with the Commission to implement the strategic planning, coordination and harmonisation of the radio spectrum in the European Union.

Management of radio frequencies

The national regulatory authorities manage the radio frequencies for electronic communication services. Such radio frequencies must be allocated and assigned on the basis of objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria. Beyond that, any undertaking intending to transfer rights to use radio frequencies must notify the national regulatory authority responsible for spectrum assignment. NRAs must ensure that competition is not distorted as a result of any such transaction.

Member States may, however, provide restrictions, where this is necessary to:

  • avoid harmful interference;
  • protect public health against electromagnetic fields;
  • ensure technical quality of service;
  • ensure maximisation of radio frequency sharing;
  • safeguard efficient use of spectrum;
  • ensure the fulfilment of a general interest objective (such as the safety of life or the promotion of social cohesion, in particular.

For a period of five years, holders of rights to use radio frequencies may submit an application to the NRA for a reassessment of the restrictions on their rights.

Undertakings may transfer or lease their individual rights to use radio frequencies.

Numbering, naming and addressing

Member States must ensure that NRAs control the assignment of all national numbering resources and the management of the national numbering plans. Adequate numbers must be provided for all electronic communications services. To this end, the national regulatory authorities must establish objective, transparent and non-discriminatory procedures for granting rights of use.

Rights of way

The purpose of granting rights of way is to allow an undertaking to install facilities on, over or under public or private properties. When a competent authority considers an application for the granting of rights of way it must act on the basis of transparent procedures, applied without discrimination and within six months.

Co-location and
sharing of network elements and associated facilities for providers of electronic communications services

In certain cases, Member States may impose the sharing of facilities or property on an undertaking operating an electronic communications network. This type of decision is used when there is limited access to resources due to the need to protect the environment, health or public safety or when it is not possible to reproduce the infrastructures. These sharing and coordination arrangements may include rules for apportioning the costs of facility or property sharing adjusted for risk where appropriate.

Security and integrity of networks and services

Undertakings providing public communications networks or electronic communications services must ensure the security of the networks. The competent NRA must be informed of any breach of security or loss of integrity on the network. They will in turn inform the NRAs of the other Member States.

To protect network security, the NRAs have the power to issue binding instructions to undertakings providing communication networks.

Regulatory controls on undertakings with significant market power

An undertaking is considered to have significant market power if it is in a position to behave independently of competitors, customers and, ultimately, consumers.

Market identification and definition procedure

The European Commission is tasked with adopting a recommendation on relevant product and service markets in the electronic communications sector, taking into account the opinion of BEREC. The purpose of this recommendation is to identify markets displaying characteristics which may justify the imposition of the regulatory obligations set out in the specific Directives.

Following consultation with the NRAs and BEREC, the Commission may adopt a decision which identifies trans-national markets.

Market analysis procedure

After the adoption of the recommendation, the national regulatory authorities must carry out an analysis of the relevant markets, taking account of the guidelines set by the Commission. Where a national regulatory authority concludes that a market is not effectively competitive, it must identify the undertakings with significant market power and impose appropriate specific regulatory obligations on them.

Standardisation

The Commission shall publish a list of non-compulsory standards in the Official Journal. These standards should contribute to the provision of harmonised electronic communications networks and the associated facilities and services. In order to achieve this, Member States shall encourage the use of these standards.

However, the Commission has the power to make some of these standards compulsory, through the publication of a notice in the Official Journal.

Interoperability of digital television services

In order to promote the free flow of information, media pluralism and cultural diversity, providers of digital interactive television services are encouraged to use an open application program interface (API). Similarly, providers of enhanced digital television equipment are encouraged to comply with an open API in accordance with the minimum requirements of the relevant standards or specifications. “API” means the software interfaces between applications and the resources in the enhanced digital television equipment for digital television and radio services. Providers are also encouraged to adapt their services to the needs of disabled persons.

Dispute resolution

Disputes between providers of electronic communications networks or services in the same Member State, or between such undertakings and other undertakings benefiting from obligations of access and/or interconnection, are resolved by the national regulatory authority, which is required to issue a binding decision within four months. In the event of a cross-border dispute between parties in different Member States, any party may refer the dispute to BEREC who shall publish an opinion as to the action to be taken to resolve the dispute.

Where the Commission finds divergences with regard to regulatory tasks, it may issue a recommendation or a decision on the harmonised application of the provisions in this Directive.

Penalties

Member States shall lay down rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions in this Directive.

They must inform the Commission of these provisions by 25 May 2011.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2002/21/EC

24.4.2002

24.7.2003

OJ L 108 of 24.4.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 717/2007

30.6.2007

30.8.2007

OJ L 171 of 29.6.2007

Regulation (EC) No 544/2009

2.7.2009

OJ L 167 of 29.6.2009

Directive 2009/140/EC

19.12.2009

25.5.2011

OJ L 337 of 18.12.2009

AMENDMENT TO THE ANNEXES

Annex II – Criteria to be used by national regulatory authorities in making an assessment of joint dominance in accordance with the second subparagraph of Article 14(2)

Directive 2009/140/EC [Official Journal L 337 of 18.12.2009].

Related Acts

REGULATIONS AND DIRECTIVES:

Regulation (EC) No 1211/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Office (Text with EEA relevance).

Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (Text with EEA relevance)

COMMUNICATIONS:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Progress report on the single european electronic communications market 2009 (15th report) [COM(2010) 253 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication reports on the situation of the electronic communications sector for the year 2009. Although the sector weathered the economic downturn in 2009, growth of the traditional markets such as fixed and mobile voice telephony slowed down. This could be explained by a decrease in consumer spending. Competition also weakened.
The Commission intends to take measures aimed at resolving the issues related to the divergences in regulatory approaches and to ensure an effective functioning of BEREC, with the aim of implementing effectively the regulatory framework.

Communication from the Commission of 24 March 2009 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Progress report on the Single European Electronic Communications Market 2008 (14th Report) [COM(2009) 140 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication reports on the situation in the electronic communications sector for 2008. During the year, the sector has grown and has been able to adjust to the economic difficulties.
Telecommunications revenues accounted for over 52% of those of the information and communication technologies (ITC) sector. The mobile market remains the most dynamic due to increasing call volumes and the take-off of mobile broadband. Mobile internet services are also expanding rapidly and encouraging growth in the sector. Conversely, revenues in the fixed telephony market fell by 5% compared with 2007, while internet voice telephony doubled its market share. The digital divide has been reduced, while the radio spectrum norms have been harmonised.
Overall, the competitive situation has improved. However, regulatory attempts still lack cohesion.

Communication from the Commission of 19 March 2008 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Progress Report on the Single European Electronic Communications Market 2007 (13th Report) [COM(2008) 153 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission reports on the situation on the single telecommunications market as at December 2007 on the basis of facts and figures provided by the NRAs and market players. According to the Report, the market is weighing increasingly on the European economy in general, with a growth rate of 1.9 % and revenue estimated at Euro 293 billion compared with Euro 289 billion in 2006. Investments, which are enjoying continued growth, exceeded Euro 50 billion in 2007. Mobile telephony remains the most dynamic sector, with turnover of Euro 137 billion, up by 3.8%. As regards third generation mobile telephony, its penetration rate has virtually doubled. Despite continued growth (Euro 62 billion compared with 58.5 billion in 2006) and a European penetration rate rising from 16.3 % in January 2007 to 20 % in January 2008, the potential of broadband is not fully exploited due to wide differences in availability between the best-performing Member States and other Member States or between urban and rural areas.
As regards consumers, this Report concludes that they have benefited from the strengthening of the competitive environment, be it in terms of falling prices, consumer protection or the quality of the basic services provided.
Lastly, the Commission comes back to the lack of cohesion of the regulatory environment and the barriers preventing the creation of a single telecommunications market. It refers to the reform proposals lodged in November 2007.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 November 2007 – Report on the outcome of the Review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services in accordance with Directive 2002/21/EC and summary of the 2007 reform proposals [COM(2007) 696 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission proposes reducing the regulatory inconsistencies and obstacles to the single market in order to improve regulation, suggesting that the 2007 reform proposals should enter into force before the end of 2009. These proposals are based on the following:

  • better regulation for competitive electronic communications. The Commission proposes improving the existing regulatory framework by maintaining ex-ante regulation, subject to market trends. It also proposes simplifying access to radio spectrum in order to encourage investment in new structures and release the economic potential of spectrum;
  • completing the single market in electronic communications, currently segmented and suffering from a complete absence of coherence. The Commission recommends establishing an independent “European Electronic Communications Market Authority” which will build on the increased independence of NRAs and improve the existing coordination mechanisms;
  • increasing the level of consumer protection and facilitating access to and use of communications, including by disabled users. The proposals aim in particular to strengthen security and privacy and to promote a high quality of service and unobstructed access to digital content. The Commission wishes to ensure the independence of regulatory authorities, whose links with traditional operators are often overly close, so as to ensure competition and consumer rights.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Commission Recommendation of 17 December 2007 on relevant product and service markets within the electronic communications sector susceptible to ex ante regulation in accordance with Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on a common regulatory framework for electronic communication networks and services [Official Journal L 344 of 28.12.2007].
The Commission lists seven markets which should be examined by national regulators. Several markets have been removed from the list provided in the 2003 Recommendation following the effective regulation of the wholesale market and developments in effective competition in the retail markets.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Current general legal framework

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC)

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 1211/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Office (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

This Regulation defines the rules on the establishment and functioning of the Body of European Regulators (BEREC). The main task of BEREC is to advise and assist the European Commission in developing the internal market and to form a link between national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and the Commission. It should also serve as a body for reflection, debate and advice for the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in the electronic communications field. BEREC should accordingly advise the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, at their request or on its own initiative.

What is BEREC’s role?

BEREC will contribute to the functioning of the internal market for electronic communications networks and services.

Its objective is to:

  • develop and disseminate among NRAs regulatory best practice, such as common approaches, methodologies or guidelines on the implementation of the EU regulatory framework;
  • assist NRAs in the regulatory field;
  • deliver opinions on draft decisions, recommendations and guidelines;
  • issue reports and provide advice on the electronic communications sector;
  • assist the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission as well as NRAs in the dissemination of best practices.

How is BEREC to be structured?

BEREC shall be composed of a Board of Regulators, whose members shall be heads or representatives of the NRAs established in each Member State with primary responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the markets for electronic communications networks and services. The main responsibility of the Board shall be to take all decisions relating to the performance of BEREC’s functions and to exercise BEREC’s tasks which include:

  • publishing opinions on draft measures of NRAs concerning market definition, the designation of undertakings with significant market power and the imposition of remedies as well as cooperation and collaboration with NRAs in this context;
  • consultation on draft recommendations on relevant product and service markets;
  • publishing opinions on draft decisions on the identification of transnational markets and on the development of common rules and requirements for providers of cross-border business services;
  • consultation on draft measures relating to effective access to the emergency call number 112, and the effective implementation of the 116 numbering range;
  • monitoring and reporting on the electronic communications sector, and publishing an annual report on developments in that sector.

BEREC will be assisted by the Office which comprises a Management Committee and an Administrative Manager. The Office Management Committee shall be composed of members of the Board of Regulators and a member representing the Commission. Under the supervision of the Management Committee, the Administrative Manager shall be responsible for heading the Office.

The main tasks of the Office shall be to:

  • provide professional and administrative support services to BEREC;
  • collect information from NRAs;
  • disseminate among NRAs regulatory best practice.

What financial provisions apply to BEREC?

BEREC’s resources will mainly consist of:

  • a subsidy from the European Union;
  • voluntary contributions from Member States or NRAs.

The budget shall be established by the Administrative Manager and drawn up by the Management Committee. It shall become final after the adoption of the general budget of the European Union.

BEREC may be subject to a financial audit as part of internal controls.

Context

Decision 2002/627/EC established the European Regulators Group (ERG) for Electronic Communications Networks and Services. The role of the ERG should however be strengthened. For this reason BEREC has been created to replace the ERG and to act as an exclusive forum for cooperation among NRAs and the Commission.

Reference

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition Official Journal

Regulation (EC) n° 1211/2009

7.1.2010

OJ L 337 of 18.12.2009

Radio and telecommunications terminal equipment

Radio and telecommunications terminal equipment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radio and telecommunications terminal equipment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Current general legal framework

Radio and telecommunications terminal equipment

Document or Iniciative

Directive 1999/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 1999 on radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment and the mutual recognition of their conformity [See amending acts].

Summary

This Directive is intended to encourage rapid dissemination of innovative technology and thus promote competition in the internal market for telecommunications.

Scope

The Directive applies to radio equipment * and telecommunications terminal equipment *. The Directive also applies where this equipment :

  • incorporates, as an integral part or as an accessory, a medical device within the meaning of Directive 93/42/EEC on medical devices;
  • incorporates, as an integral part or as an accessory, an active implantable medical device within the meaning of Directive 90/385/EEC on active implantable medical devices;
  • constitutes a component or a separate technical unit of a vehicle, within the meaning of Directive 72/245/EEC relating to radio interference caused by motor vehicles;
  • constitutes a component or a separate technical unit of a vehicle, within the meaning of Directive 2002/24/EC relating to the type-approval of two- or three-wheel motor vehicles.

The Directive does not apply to apparatus exclusively used for activities concerning public security, defence, State security and the activities of the State in the area of criminal law; nor does it apply to:

  • radio equipment used by radio amateurs, except when it is commercially available fully assembled;
  • equipment covered by Directive 96/98/EC relating to marine equipment;
  • wires and cables;
  • radio equipment intended to be used solely for the reception of sound and TV broadcasting services;
  • products, equipment or components within the meaning of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91 relating to the field of civil aviation;

Essential requirements and harmonised European standards

Member States must ensure that apparatus complies with the essential requirements of the Directive where it is properly installed, maintained and used, which is a condition for its being placed on the market.

The following essential requirements are applicable to the apparatus:

  • protection of the health and safety of the user and any other person, including the security provisions laid down in Directive 2006/95/EC, relating to electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits (but with no lower voltage limit);
  • electromagnetic compatibility as per Directive 2004/108/EC;
  • use of the spectrum allocated to terrestrial/space radiocommunication and to orbital resources, which make it possible to avoid harmful interference.

When an apparatus is in conformity with harmonised European standards, in accordance with the procedures established by Directive 98/34/EC, the Member States presume that the current Directive’s requirements have been met.

Information and notification

Member States shall ensure that the manufacturers or the persons responsible for placing the apparatus on the market provide information on its use in the documentation or packaging, together with the declaration of conformity with the essential requirements.

More specifically, for radio equipment, this information must be sufficient to identify on the packaging and in the instructions for use of the apparatus the Member States or the geographical area within a Member State where the equipment is intended to be used.

For telecommunications terminal equipment, such information must identify the interfaces of the public telecommunications networks to which the equipment is intended to be connected.

CE marking

Apparatus which complies with all the essential requirements bears the CE conformity marking. Manufacturers identify their apparatus by stating its type, batch and/or serial numbers and by the name of the manufacturer or of the person responsible for placing the apparatus on the market.

If a notified body has been consulted by the manufacturer regarding the equipment’s conformity with the Directive, its number accompanies the CE marking.

In its Decision 2000/299/EC of 6 April 2000, the Commission established a class of radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment that cannot be used everywhere in the EU (as in the case of non-harmonised national frequency plans). This type of equipment must bear a corresponding warning mark along side the CE marking.

Placing on the market and free movement

Member States must not prohibit, restrict or impede the placing on the market and putting into service on their territory of any apparatus if it complies with the essential requirements and other provisions of the Directive.

If a Member State decides that apparatus does not meet the requirements of this Directive, it may prohibit, interrupt or restrict the placing on the market and also the putting into service of that apparatus.

Putting into service and the safeguard clause

Member States may restrict the putting into service of radio equipment only for reasons relating to the efficient and appropriate use of the radio spectrum, the need to avoid harmful interference, or public health issues.

If a Member State decides that an apparatus does not satisfy the requirements of the safeguard clause, it may take measures to withdraw it from service, to prohibit its being in service or to restrict its free movement.

Conformity assessment and notified bodies

This Directive lays down the procedures from which the manufacturer may choose for assessing conformity with the essential requirements for different types of equipment. Member States notify the Commission of the bodies they have designated to carry out the conformity assessment procedures.

If the manufacturer so chooses, the procedures for assessing conformity with essential requirements in Directive 73/23/EEC and Directive 89/336/EEC may also be used for assessing conformity with the respective requirements of those directives.

Key terms used in the act
  • Radio equipment: a product, or component thereof, capable of communication by means of the emission and/or reception of radio waves utilising the spectrum allocated to terrestrial/space radio communication.
  • Telecommunications terminal equipment: a product, or a component of a product, which is intended to be connected directly or indirectly to interfaces of public telecommunications networks.
  • Apparatus: any radio equipment, telecommunications terminal equipment, or both.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 1999/5/EC

7.4.1999

7.4.2000

OJ L 91 of 7.4.1999

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003.

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009

18.6.2009

OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2000/29/EEC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference only.

Related Acts

Reports

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 9 February 2010 – second Progress Report on the operation of Directive 1999/5/EC, on radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment and the mutual recognition of their conformity [COM(2010) 43 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Report describes the operation of Directive 1999/5/EC with a view to its future revision.
The Report notes that the objectives of the Directive have been achieved in terms of:

  • protection of health for users;
  • the safety of users;
  • the electromagnetic compatibility of telecommunications terminals and radio equipment;
  • the avoidance of harmful interference.

However, the Report stresses that market entrance for innovative radio technologies and the traceability of the manufacturer or the person responsible for placing products on the market need to be improved.

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 22 April 2004 – First Progress Report Directive 1999/5/EC (the R&TTE Directive) [COM(2004) 288 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Report notes that the implementation of Directive 1999/5/EC has contributed towards the development of the internal market for radio and terminal equipment. However, the administrative provisions of the Directive are not sufficiently adhered to, which puts into question of the proportionality of these provisions and the effectiveness of communicating them to the sector.

Decisions

Commission Decision 2005/631/EC of 29 August 2005 concerning essential requirements as referred to in Directive 1999/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council ensuring access to Cospas-Sarsat locator beacons to emergency services. [Official Journal L 225 of 31.08.2005].

Commission Decision 2005/53/EC of 25 January 2005, relating to the application of Article 3(3)(e) of Directive 1999/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council to radio equipment intended to participate in the Automatic Identification System (AIS) [Official Journal L 22 of 26.01.2005].

Commission Decision 2004/71/EC of 4 September 2003 on essential requirements relating to marine radio communication equipment which is intended to be used on non-SOLAS vessels and to participate in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) [Official Journal L 16 of 23.01.2004].

Commission Decision 2001/148/EC of 21 February 2001 on the application of Article 3(3)(e) of Directive 1999/5/EC to avalanche beacons [Official Journal L 55 of 24.02.2001].

Commission Decision 2000/637/EC of 22 September 2000 on the application of Article 3(3)(e) of Directive 1999/5/EC to radio equipment covered by the regional arrangement concerning the radiotelephone service on inland waterways [Official Journal L 269 of 21.10.2000].

Commission Decision 2000/373/EC of 26 May 2000 concerning the request by France to maintain pursuant to Article 18(3) of Directive 1999/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (the Terminal Directive) a requirement for telecommunications terminal equipment intended for connection to the analogue public switched telephone network of France Telecom [Official Journal L 135 of 08.06.2000].

Commission Decision 2000/299/EC of 6 April 2000 establishing the initial classification of radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment and associated identifiers [Official Journal L 97 of 06.04.2000].

Regulations

Regulation (EC) No 552/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2004 on the interoperability of the European Air Traffic Management network (the interoperability Regulation) [Official Journal L 96 of 31.03.2004].

Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91 of 16 December 1991 on the harmonization of technical requirements and administrative procedures in the field of civil aviation [Official Journal L 373 of 31.12.1991].

Recommendation

Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz) [Official Journal L 199 of 30.07.1999].

Directive

Directive 98/10/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 1998 on the application of open network provision (ONP) to voice telephony and on universal service for telecommunications in a competitive environment [Official Journal L 101 of 01.04.1998].

Universal service and users' rights

Universal service and users’ rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Universal service and users’ rights

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

Universal service and users’ rights

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) [Official Journal L 108 of 24 April 2002]. [See amending acts].

Summary

The Universal Service Directive is part of the “Telecoms Package” which, together with four other directives (“framework”, ” access and interconnection”, “authorisation” and “private life and electronic communications”), aims to recast the existing regulatory framework for telecommunications and to make the electronic communications sector more competitive. The “Telecoms Package” was amended in December 2009 by the two Directives “Better law-making” and the “Citizens’ rights”, as well as by a body of European regulators for electronic communications.

Universal service obligations

The Directive defines universal service as the “minimum set of services of specified quality to which all end-users have access, at an affordable price in the light of specific national conditions, without distorting competition”.

Availability of the universal service

Member States must ensure that the electronic communications services detailed in the Directive are made available to all users in their territory, regardless of their geographical location, at a specified quality level and an affordable price.

Provision of access at a fixed location and telephone services

A fundamental requirement of universal service is to provide users on request with a connection to the public telephone network at a fixed location and at an affordable price. The connection provided shall enable end-users to take charge of voice communications, facsimile communications and data communications, at data rates that are sufficient to permit functional Internet access, the provision of which may be restricted by Member States to the end-user’s primary residence. There should be no constraints on the technical means by which the connection is provided.

Directory enquiry services and directories

Directory enquiry services and directories. At least one comprehensive directory which is updated at least once a year must be available to end-users. Similarly, at least one directory enquiry service must be available to end-users, including users of public pay telephones.

Public pay telephones and other access points to publicly available telephone services

The national regulatory authorities (NRAs) must be able to impose obligations on undertakings to ensure that public pay telephones or other access points to publicly available telephone services are provided to meet the needs of end-users, whether in terms of geographical coverage, the number of telephones or other access points, the accessibility of such telephones to disabled users or the quality of services.

Special measures for disabled users

The term “universal” means that the Member States must ensure that disabled users enjoy a service which meets their needs and is of an equivalent standard to those enjoyed by other users. In order to achieve this, access must be the same at a functional level, such that disabled end-users can use the same services as other end-users, but through different means. Member States may require the NRAs to assess the general need and specific requirements of the type of measures particularly for disabled end-users.

Designation of undertakings

The Member States may designate one or more undertakings to guarantee the provision of universal service. The Member States may also designate different undertakings to provide different elements of universal service and/or to cover different parts of the national territory.

Affordability of tariffs

The Member States shall ensure that consumers with low incomes have access to special tariff arrangements or are given special assistance to enable them to have access to the network and to use it. The special tariffs must either be provided by the designated undertaking, or already be available on the market. Furthermore, the Member States may require undertakings which have universal service obligations to comply with price caps or to apply common tariffs, including geographical averaging, throughout the national territory.

Quality of service

The national regulatory authorities must set performance targets for undertakings with universal service obligations and monitor compliance with these targets by designated undertakings.

Financing of universal service obligations

In order to compensate for the net costs to which the provision of universal service might give rise, compensation mechanisms for operators with universal service obligations may be provided for. This may involve the introduction of a mechanism to compensate from public funds and/or a mechanism to share costs between providers of electronic communications networks and services.

Regulatory control of undertakings with significant retail market power

The aim is to strike a balance between promoting the interests of European citizens and ensuring effective competition, while providing for a minimum of regulatory intervention in order to establish a common level of rights throughout the European Community.

The national regulatory authorities must impose obligations with regard to retail services identified as not being effectively competitive, including in particular the requirement that undertakings do not charge excessive prices, inhibit market entry or restrict competition by setting predatory prices.

Users’ interests and rights

The users of electronic telecommunications services enjoy a number of rights, including in particular:

  • the right to have a contract concluded with one or more undertakings where consumers subscribe to services providing connection to the telephone network. The contract must contain a minimum set of information: the identity and address of the supplier, the types of services provided (including, in particular, if access to the emergency services is provided or not, information on all other conditions limiting access to services and applications and/or their use, and the minimum quality levels of services offered, etc.), the duration of the contract and renewal conditions, the arrangements for procedures for settling disputes, etc.;
  • the provision by operators of transparent, up-to-date information on applicable prices and tariffs;
  • the setting of minimum requirements in terms of quality of service in order to prevent the deterioration of the service and the obstruction or slowing down of traffic on the networks;
  • the publication by undertakings which offer publicly accessible electronic communications services of comparable, adequate and up-to-date information on the quality of their services;
  • the guarantee that, in the event of catastrophic network breakdown or in cases of force majeure, access to the public telephone network remains available to users;
  • the provision of operator assistance and directory enquiry services.

The single European emergency call number (112) must remain free of charge, even from public pay telephones. The undertakings involved must make caller location information available free-of-charge to the authority handling emergency calls as soon as the call reaches the aforementioned authority.

The Directive also makes it easier to change providers through the ability for users to retain their telephone number (fixed or mobile) when they change operator. Subscribers who have concluded an agreement regarding the porting of a number to a new operator must have this number activated within one working day. However, the pricing between operators and providers should not dissuade a subscriber from changing provider.

Member States shall promote specific harmonised “116” numbers for services with a social purpose, including the emergency number for “Missing children”.

Member States may impose reasonable “must carry” obligations for the broadcast of radio and television channels, in particular accessibility services aimed at ensuring suitable access for disabled end-users, on undertakings under their jurisdiction which provide electronic communications networks.

General and final provisions

Consultation with interested parties

With regard to end-users’ rights, the national regulatory authorities are required to take account of the views of end-users, consumers, manufacturers and undertakings that provide electronic communications networks and/or services. Member States shall specifically ensure that the NRAs establish a consultation mechanism which ensures that the interests of consumers, in terms of electronic communications, are duly taken into account.

Out-of-court resolution of disputes

Simple, transparent, non-discriminatory and inexpensive out-of-court procedures must be made available to users for dealing with unresolved disputes relating to universal service obligations. Where appropriate and warranted, the Member States may adopt a system of reimbursement and/or compensation.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2002/22/EC

24.04.2002

24.07.2003

OJ L 108 of 24.04.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/136/EC

19.12.2009

25.5.2011

OJ l 337 of 18.12.2009

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the second periodic review of the scope of universal service in electronic communications networks and services in accordance with Article 15 of Directive 2002/22/EC [COM (2008) 572 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication examines the concept of the universal service obligation (USO) in the electronic communications sector, as well as the scope of universal service itself.
Access to mobile communications at an affordable price has developed considerably in recent years due to the introduction of competition between mobile services. This service consequently does not meet the conditions for the application of universal service.
Broadband internet is also developing strongly due to competition between parallel infrastructures (between 2003 and 2007, broadband use by households in the European Union tripled). But broadband is also no longer covered by the current Directive. However, this report finds that access to broadband communications is not just needed for competitiveness and economic growth but is becoming a prime objective of consumer welfare and digital inclusion.
For these reasons and in order to initiate a public debate, the Commission raises the question whether universal service is an appropriate tool to advance broadband development and mobile telephony or whether these services should be left to other Community instruments or to national measures.

Access to electronic communications networks

Access to electronic communications networks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Access to electronic communications networks

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

Access to electronic communications networks

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2002/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (Access Directive).

Summary

The Access Directive forms part of the “Telecoms package” which, with four other directives (“framework”, “authorisation”, “universal service” and “privacy and electronic communications”), aims to revise the existing regulatory framework and make the communications networks and services sector more competitive.

The “Telecoms Package” was amended in December 2009 by the two Directives “Better law-making” and the “Citizens’ rights”, as well as by a body of European regulators for electronic communications.

This Directive establishes rights and obligations for operators and for undertakings seeking interconnection and/or access to their networks. The principle is to allow competition rules to act as an instrument for market regulation. However, insofar as there is no effective competition on the market, the national regulatory authorities (NRA) must act, among other things by imposing obligations on operators which have significant market power.

The objective is to establish a framework which will encourage competition by stimulating the development of communications services and networks, and also to ensure that any bottlenecks in the market do not constrain the emergence of innovative services that could benefit the users. The approach adopted is technologically neutral, i.e. the Directive is not intended to introduce rules which could be adapted to technological progress but, instead, to establish a modus operandi to address market problems.

The Directive applies to all forms of communication networks carrying publicly available communications services. These include fixed and mobile telecommunications networks, networks used for terrestrial broadcasting, cable TV networks, and satellite and Internet networks used for voice, fax, data and image transmission.

General principles

Member States must ensure that there are no restrictions which prevent undertakings in the same Member State or in different Member States from negotiating between themselves agreements on access and/or interconnection.

Moreover, the Directive establishes a fundamental rule regarding interconnection to the effect that all network operators have rights and obligations as regards interconnection agreements. Thus, operators of public communications networks have a right and, when requested by other undertakings so authorised, an obligation to negotiate interconnection with each other for the purpose of providing publicly available electronic communications services.

Obligations imposed on operators

The national regulatory authorities are responsible for carrying out regular market analyses in order to determine whether one or more operators have significant power on the market in question. Where, following a market analysis, an operator is identified as having significant power on a given market, the national regulatory authorities will impose the following obligations on that operator, according to the circumstances:

  • obligations of transparency in relation to interconnection and/or access requiring operators to make public specified information such as accounting information, technical specifications or network characteristics;
  • obligations of non-discrimination to ensure that operators apply equivalent conditions in equivalent circumstances to undertakings providing equivalent services;
  • obligations of accounting separation in relation to specified activities concerning interconnection and/or access;
  • obligations of access to, and use of, specific network facilities. Operators may be required inter alia:
    • to give third parties access to specified network elements and/or facilities, including unbundled access to the local loop;
    • to negotiate in good faith with undertakings requesting access;
    • not to withdraw access to facilities already granted;
    • to grant open access to technical interfaces, protocols or other key technologies that are indispensable for the interoperability of services;
    • to provide co-location or other forms of associated facility sharing;
    • to give access to associated services such as those related to identity, location and occupation.
  • obligations relating to cost recovery and price controls, including obligations for cost orientation of prices and obligations concerning cost accounting systems;
  • obligations relating to functional separation, according to which vertically integrated undertakings must place activities related to the wholesale provision of relevant access products in an independently operating business entity in order to supply access products and services to all undertakings, including to other business entities within the parent company, on the same timescales, terms and conditions, including those relating to price and service levels, and by means of the same systems and processes.

In the case of persisting market failures despite the implementation of these obligations, the NRA may impose an obligation on an undertaking to place activities related to provision and services in an independently operating business entity. In the case of undertakings considered to be in a dominant position in one or many markets, they may transfer their local access network assets to another undertaking. They must inform the NRA of their intention so that the NRA can assess the effect of the transfer on the obligations imposed by Directive 2002/21/EC.

Procedural provisions

The obligations imposed on undertakings under the measures laid down by the Directive must be published in a form which is readily accessible to all interested parties (except for information which is confidential, including business secrets).

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2002/19/EC

24.4.2002

24.7.2003

OJ L 108 of 24.4.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/140/EC

19.12.2009

25.5.2011

OJ L 337 of 18.12.2009

AMENDMENT TO THE ANNEXES

Annex II – Minimum list of items to be included in a reference offer for wholesale network infrastructure access, including shared or fully unbundled access to the local loop at a fixed location to be published by notified operators with significant market power (SMP)

Directive 2009/140/EC [Official Journal L 337 of 18.12.2009].

Related Acts

Commission guidelines on the market analysis and the assessment of significant market power under the regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services [Official Journal C 165 of 11.7.2002]

Under the new regulatory framework on communications services, these guidelines, which were adopted in July 2002, lay down the principles on which the national regulatory authorities must base their market analysis in order to guarantee effective competition.

Data protection in the electronic communications sector

Data protection in the electronic communications sector

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Data protection in the electronic communications sector

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

Data protection in the electronic communications sector

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) [See amending acts].

Summary

Directive 2002/58/EC forms part of the “Telecoms Package”, a new legislative framework designed to regulate the electronic communications sector and amend the existing regulations governing the telecommunications sector. The “Telecoms Package” includes four other Directives on the general framework, access and interconnection, authorisation and licensing and the universal service. The “Telecoms Package” was amended in December 2009 by the two Directives “Better law-making” and “Citizens’ rights”, as well as by the establishment of a body of European regulators for electronic communications (BEREC).

This Directive principally concerns the processing of personal data relating to the delivery of communications services.

Processing security

The provider of an electronic communications service must protect the security of its services by:

  • ensuring personal data is accessed by authorised persons only;
  • protecting personal data from being destroyed, lost or accidentally altered;
  • ensuring the implementation of a security policy on the processing of personal data.

In the case of an infringement of personal data, the service provider must inform the person concerned, as well as the National Regulatory Authority (NRA).

Confidentiality of communications

The Directive reiterates the basic principle that Member States must, through national legislation, ensure the confidentiality of communications made over a public electronic communications network. They must in particular prohibit the listening into, tapping and storage of communications by persons other than users without the consent of the users concerned. The subscriber or user who stores their information must first be informed of the purposes of the processing of their data. They have the option to withdraw their consent on the processing of traffic data.

Data retention

The Directive determines that traffic data and location data must be erased or made anonymous when they are no longer required for the conveyance of a communication or for billing, except if the subscriber has given their consent for another use. On the sensitive issue of data retention, the Directive stipulates that Member States may withdraw the protection of data only to allow criminal investigations or to safeguard national security, defence and public security. Such action may be taken only where it constitutes a “necessary, appropriate and proportionate measure within a democratic society”.

In order to ensure the availability of communication data for the purpose of investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences, the Directive lays down provisions for the retention of data.

Unsolicited communications (“spamming”)

The Directive takes an “opt-in” approach to unsolicited commercial electronic communications, i.e. users must have given their prior consent before such communications are addressed to them. This opt-in system also covers SMS text messages and other electronic messages received on any fixed or mobile terminal. However, exceptions are provided.

Cookies

The Directive states that users must give their consent for information to be stored on their terminal equipment, or that access to such information may be obtained. In order to do this, users must receive clear and comprehensive information about the purpose of the storage or access. These provisions protect the private life of users from malicious software, such as viruses or spyware, but also apply to cookies.

Cookies are hidden information exchanged between an Internet user and a web server, and are stored in a file on the user’s hard disk. Their original purpose was to retain information between sessions. They are also a useful and much decried tool for monitoring a net surfer’s activity.

The Directive encourages the use of methods, which are as user-friendly as possible, see effective technical tools.

Public directories

European citizens must give prior consent in order for their telephone numbers (landline or mobile), e-mail addresses and postal addresses to appear in public directories.

Controls

Member States must implement a system of penalties, including legal sanctions in the case of infringements to the provisions of this Directive, and ensure that the national competent authorities have at their disposal the necessary powers and resources to monitor and control compliance with the national provisions adopted during the transposition of this Directive.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2002/58/EC

30.07.2002

31.10.2003

OJ L 201 of 31.07.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2006/24/EC

3.5.2006

15.9.2007

OJ L 105 of 13.04.2006

Directive 2009/136/EC

19.12.2009

25.5.2011

OJ L 337 of 18.12.2009

Related Acts

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 [Official Journal L 281/31 of 23.11.95].
This Directive is the reference text, at European level, on the protection of personal data. It sets up a regulatory framework which seeks to strike a balance between a high level of protection for the privacy of individuals and the free movement of personal data within the EU.

Regulation 45/2001/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data [Official Journal L 8 of 12.01.2001]
This Regulation aims to protect personal data within EU institutions and bodies. The text provides for rules to ensure a high level of protection for personal data processed by the Community institutions and bodies and the creation of an independent supervisory body to monitor the application of these rules.

Authorisation of electronic communications networks and services

Authorisation of electronic communications networks and services

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Authorisation of electronic communications networks and services

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

Authorisation of electronic communications networks and services

Document or Iniciative

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 (Authorisation Directive).

Summary

Directive 2002/20/EC is part of the “Telecoms Package”, the new legislative framework for the electronic communications sector which replaces the existing legislation on telecommunications. The Package comprises four other directives relating to the general framework, interconnection, universal service and the protection of privacy. The “Telecoms Package” has been amended in December 2009 by two Directives “Better legislation” and the “Right of citizens”, as well as by the establishment of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

Scope, objective and general principle

The provisions of this Directive cover authorisations for all electronic communications networks and services, whether they are provided to the public or not. However, they only apply to the granting of rights to use radio frequencies where such use involves the provision of an electronic communications network or service, normally for remuneration.

The aim is to establish a harmonised market for electronic communications networks and services by limiting regulation to the minimum that is strictly necessary.

The main innovation is the replacement of individual licences by general authorisations, while a special scheme for attributing frequencies and numbers continues to exist. According to this principle, the provision of electronic communications networks or services may only be subject to a general authorisation. In other words, the undertaking concerned may be required to submit a notification but it may not be required to obtain an explicit decision or any other administrative act by the national regulatory authority (NRA) before exercising the rights stemming from the authorisation. Undertakings providing cross-border services shall not be required to submit more than one notification per Member State concerned.

A clear distinction is made between the conditions applicable under the general authorisation and those linked to the rights to use radio frequencies and numbers.

Minimum rights derived from the general authorisation

The general authorisation gives undertakings the right to provide electronic communications networks and services and to negotiate interconnection with other providers in the European Community. When such undertakings provide electronic communications networks or services to the public, the general authorisation makes them eligible to be designated to provide certain universal service functions.

Rights of use for radio frequencies and numbers

Member States shall facilitate the use of radio frequencies through general authorisations, but they may make the use of radio frequencies subject to the grant of individual rights with a view to:

  • avoiding harmful interference;
  • ensuring technical quality of service;
  • safeguarding efficient use of spectrum;
  • ensuring the fulfilment of other general interest objectives defined by Member States.

Decisions on rights of use must be taken and made public as soon as possible after receipt of the complete application by the NRA. This must be done within three weeks in the case of numbers that have been allocated to be used within the national numbering plan, and within six weeks in the case of radio frequencies that have been allocated for specific purposes within the national frequency plan.

Conditions attached to the general authorisation and to specific rights of use

The general authorisation and the rights of use may be subject only to the conditions listed in the Annex to the Directive relating to:

  • financial contributions to funding of the universal service;
  • interoperability of services and interconnection of networks;
  • accessibility and portability of numbers– portability means that users have the option to keep their telephone number when they change operator;
  • rules on privacy protection and, more specifically, the protection of minors;
  • obligation to transmit certain television and radio programmes (“must carry”);
  • environmental and town and country planning requirements;
  • possible imposition of administrative charges on undertakings;
  • restrictions concerning the broadcast of illegal content;
  • use of the radio spectrum.

Procedure for limiting the rights of use for radio frequencies

Where a Member State is considering whether to limit the number of rights of use to be granted for radio frequencies or whether to extend the duration of existing rights in accordance with specific terms, certain conditions and procedures have to be followed, such as consultation of all interested parties, publication of any decisions together with the reasons, and the review, at reasonable intervals, of the limitation.

Where the granting of rights of use for radio frequencies needs to be limited, Member States must grant such rights on the basis of selection criteria which must be objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate.

Where a Member State concludes that further rights of use for radio frequencies can be granted, it must publish that conclusion and invite applications for such rights.

Compliance with the conditions of the general authorisation or of specific rights of use

The NRAs monitor and supervise compliance with the requirements of the general authorisation or the rights of use and specific obligations.

Where an undertaking does not comply with one or more of these conditions, the NRA must give it a reasonable opportunity to state its views or remedy any breaches within a reasonable period. If the undertaking concerned does not remedy the breaches within the set period, Member States may empower the relevant authorities to impose orders to cease or financial penalties. In cases of serious and repeated breaches, the NRAs may prevent an undertaking from continuing to provide electronic communications networks or services or suspend or withdraw rights of use.

Administrative charges and fees

The NRAs are authorised to impose administrative charges on undertakings providing a service or a network under the general authorisation or to whom a right of use has been granted. Administrative charges may include costs for international cooperation, harmonisation and standardisation, market analysis and regulatory work. The imposition of administrative charges requires NRAs to publish a yearly overview of their administrative costs and of the total sum of the charges collected.

The competent authority may also charge a fee for the rights of use of radio frequencies and for rights to install facilities.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2002/20/EC

24.2.2002

24.7.2003

OJ L 108 of 24.4.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/140/EC

19.2.2009

25.5.2011

OJ L 337 of 18.12.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2002/20/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.

AMENDMENTS TO THE ANNEXES

Annex
Directive 2009/140/EC [Official Journal OJ L 337 of 18.12.2009].

Related Act

Commission guidelines on market analysis and assessment of significant market power pursuant to the Community regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services [Official Journal C165 of 11.7.2002].

In compliance with the new regulatory framework for communications services, these guidelines, which were adopted in July 2002, set out the principles on which the national regulatory authorities must base their market analysis in order to guarantee effective competition.