New EU telecom rules: latest actions in time for transposition deadline

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today marks the deadline for Member States to transpose the new EU telecom rules into national law. The European Electronic Communications Code, which entered into force in December 2018, modernises the European regulatory framework for electronic communications, to enhance consumer’s choices and rights, ensure higher standards of communication services, as well as boost investment for more connectivity and more digital innovation.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the internal market, said: “The Code is the cornerstone on which we will build the seamless Gigabit connectivity our continent needs to support recovery and bounce forward in the Digital Decade. The new regulatory framework will facilitate investments into very high quality, secure and affordable telecommunication services throughout Europe, both fixed and mobile. Member States now need to rapidly complete the transposition so the new regulatory framework can deliver its full benefits for European consumers, businesses and society at large.”

In line with the Code, on 18 December, the Commission also adopted legislation to reinforce the existing objectives of competition and internal market, protect consumers and allow fair rates and varied offers for internet and telephone services.

These measures include:

  • A new Delegated Regulation setting single maximum Union-wide voice termination rates that operators are allowed to charge each other for delivering fixed and mobile calls between their networks.
  • An updated Recommendation on Relevant Markets, updating the list of predefined markets which European National Regulatory Authorities are required to regularly review.

As part of the obligations of the Code, the Implementing regulation on the contract summary template establishes a standard template for the contract summary that operators of electronic communications services, such as telephony, messaging and internet connection, should provide to consumers in the EU. The summary will include the main conditions of the contract, such as the provider’s contact details, description of the service, speeds of the internet service, price, duration, terms of renewal and termination of the contract and features for end-users with disabilities.

Also in line with the Code, the Commission has submitted a report to the European Parliament and to the Council of the European Union on the effectiveness of the implementation of the single European emergency number ‘112′.

EU-wide voice call termination rates

The Commission adopted on 18 December, the Delegated Regulation setting single maximum Union-wide fixed and mobile voice termination rates, that is the rate, which operators apply to each other when connecting a call. Thanks to these maximum rates a more competitive cross-border environment will emerge, which will benefit European consumers through lower prices and more varied offers for both fixed and mobile calls.

For mobile calls, the single maximum termination rate is 0.2 eurocents per minute and will be achieved gradually between now and 2024. This glide path will allow for a swift implementation, while at the same time avoiding significant disruptions for operators. After the interim period of 2021-2023, as of 2024, all operators in the Union should apply the same single maximum rate of 0.2 eurocents per minute.

For fixed calls, the single maximum EU-wide termination rate is 0.07 eurocents per minute. Due to the differences between the current termination rates in some Member States and the final rate, a transitional period during 2021 will allow for a gradual adjustment. By 2022, all fixed operators will be subject to a maximum fixed termination rate of 0.07 eurocents per minute.

More information about the Delegated Regulation on EU-wide maximum termination rates is available here.

Updated Recommendation on relevant markets

The Commission also updated the Recommendation on relevant product and service markets within the electronic communications sector, which still warrant regulation at EU-level. The Recommendation is an important regulatory and harmonisation tool, which allows the national regulatory authorities (NRAs) to focus their regulatory intervention on markets where competition is not yet functioning effectively and significant market failures persist. Its aim is therefore to safeguard competition, incentivise investments in networks and maximise benefits for consumers. By regulating wholesale markets between communication service providers, consumers will be able to benefit from better prices, service availability and new offers.

This is the fourth review of the Recommendation. It maintains two wholesale markets in the list, namely the market for wholesale local access for mass-market broadband services; and the market for wholesale access to dedicated connectivity, for business use requiring a higher quality of connectivity.

More information about the updated Recommendation on relevant markets is available here.

Background

The European Electronic Communications Code that was adopted in 2018, amends and codifies into one single instrument the four pre-existing Directives dating from 2002 and amended in 2009: the FrameworkAuthorisationAccess and Universal Service Directives. In the two years since the adoption of the Code, the Commission has supported the Member States in the transposition process through continuous review, guidance and reporting on a number of supporting measures. Moreover, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has developed a significant number of guidelines, which aim to promote a consistent application of the Code and contribute to its successful implementation.

In September 2020, the Commission adopted a Recommendation on developing a Connectivity Toolbox, inviting Member States to work closely together, and with the Commission, to gather their best practices on rolling out very high-capacity networks and assigning spectrum for 5G. The first milestone in that direction was a report published on 18 December that compiles the best practices that Member States identified and shared, in cooperation with the Commission. The final best practice measures to be included in the Connectivity Toolbox should be agreed by 30 March 2021.

In June 2020, the Commission adopted an Implementing regulation on small-area wireless access points, or small antennas, which are crucial for timely availability of 5G networks. The Regulation specifies the physical and technical characteristics of the small antennas and aims to help simplify and accelerate 5G network installations, through a permit-exempt deployment regime, while ensuring that national authorities keep oversight.

The Commission’s strategy on Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society sets the EU’s connectivity objectives. By 2025, all main socio-economic drivers, including schools, hospitals, and transport hubs, should have gigabit connectivity, all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths should be connected with uninterrupted 5G coverage, and all European households should have access to connectivity offering at least 100 Mbps upgradable to Gigabit speeds.

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