Managing of communications: what is the new version of the draft law on e-communications about



When there will be less spam, what is an adequate tariff and who and how will protect the rights of mobile subscribers

Last year, the draft law on electronic communications was registered at least four times in the Verkhovna Rada, but each time it was sent for revision.

The day before, on February 5, a new draft law on e-communications No.3014 was registered in the Verkhovna Rada. However, the text of the document is not yet available.

Some of its initiators and drafters told the Mind portal about some of the new document’s innovations. For example, the IT and Telecom Sector Head at the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) Ihor Samokhodsky spoke, in particular, about how the document would protect the rights of subscribers.

According to the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR), there are 54 million active SIM-cards used by Ukrainians. According to various estimates, the population is between 37 and 42 million Ukrainians. It is easy to calculate that on average one subscriber has from 1.3 to 1.5 SIM-cards. It is safe to say that all or almost all Ukrainians use mobile communication services.

Although mobile communications affect almost everyone, subscribers are hardly protected due to the inadequate current legislation. Every day, people are faced with common annoying issues such as SMS spam, unreasonable charges, interruptions in Internet access and others.

To address these issues, experts from the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) have proposed changes that formed the basis for the draft law “On Electronic Communications” developed on the basis of the European Code of Electronic Communications. It gives special attention to the protection of subscribers.

Top 5 subscribers’ problems to be solved by the draft law:

  1. Spam

Unwanted SMS-messages such as “Cheap Taxi” have long become an annoying thing. And spam calls to subscribers are used even in political campaigns. The current legislation does not provide for liability for unwanted mailings and does not establish any requirements to them.

The draft law introduces:

  • mandatory prior consent of subscribers to receive information (Article 123);
  • obligatory possibility to opt out of mailings in each message (Article 123);
  • a fine from 1,700 to 8,500 UAH for unwanted spamming (amendments to Article 148 of the Code of Administrative Offences).
  1. A complicated procedure for the protection of subscriber’s rights

It is expensive and difficult for subscribers to defend their rights. In case of wrongful charges on mobile accounts, they need to go to court. The dispute amounts are usually small: tens or hundreds of hryvnias. But the costs, on the contrary, are high: they need to hire a lawyer, file a lawsuit and prepare for a lengthy litigation.

And such a subscriber will face with a professional team of operator’s lawyers with maximum resources because any loss for the operator is a negative precedent.

In such a situation, it is easier for subscribers to accept the violation of their rights than to defend them.

The draft law introduces:

  • out-of-court resolution of disputes (Article 126).

This is a simple alternative to litigation. It will be enough to contact the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR) in electronic form to defend own rights. The NCCIR has the authority to consider the dispute and make a binding decision. And all this – within two months from the date of appeal.

  1. A lack of possibility to pay only for the necessary service

Currently, it is not always possible to purchase a specific service. For example, a subscriber wants to pay only for minutes for calls. However, the operator offers just a “package” of services including the Internet, minutes and SMS.  In such a way, even residents of villages with virtually no mobile Internet pays for the Internet access.

The draft law introduces:

  • free choice of the specific service subscribers need (Article 110).

That is, if you only need minutes for calls, you pay only for them.

  1. There is no clear information about fixed Internet speed

Promo Internet speed of “up to 100 Mbp/s” provides subscribers with very little information.

Because both 1 Mbp/s and 99 Mbp/s are up to 100 Mbp/s.

The draft law introduces:

  • informing about the minimum, average and maximum speed of Internet service provision and other parameters (Article 108).

In such a way, when choosing a service provider, subscribers can expect the clear minimum speed of service instead of buying a pig in a poke.

  1. Low fines for violation of subscribers’ rights

The current amount of the fine for violation of subscribers’ rights is from 850 to 1,700 hryvnias (current Article 148-2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of Ukraine). This amount does not stimulate large market players.

The draft law introduces:

  • a fine of between UAH 17,000 to UAH 85,000 for each violation of subscribers’ rights (Article 129).

We expect that the new fines will serve an effective deterrent factor with regard to subscribers’ rights violation.

A working group established at the Committee on Digital Transformation of the Verkhovna Rada has worked on the draft law. It included, in particular, representatives of Ukrainian mobile operators, business associations and independent experts. Therefore, companies will also receive a lot of progressive standards: technological neutrality, online interaction with the regulator, transfer of rights to use the radio frequency spectrum and other benefits.

In such a way, the implementation of the E-Communications Code will benefit both all mobile subscribers and service providers, so we hope for a quick consideration of the legislative initiative in the Parliament and the urgent implementation of positive changes in the market.