New legislation for telecom: protection of consumers’ rights, transparent rules for operators and integration with the EU

07-02-2020

The digital divide doesn’t allow millions of Ukrainians to take advantage of high-quality digital services and modern educational opportunities as well as unlock entrepreneurial potential on a daily basis. BRDO aims to change this situation in e-communications.

On February 5, Ukrainian Parliament finally registered an innovative draft law No.3014, over which BRDO experts worked hard as part of a working group together with the relevant Parliament Committee and market participants.

The document lays the groundwork for the comprehensive reform in the sector for the years ahead and aims to better protect consumer rights, provide Internet access anywhere in the country and create more predictable and stable conditions for telecom operators.

In such a way, the main provisions of the draft law aimed at protecting service consumers are:

  1. Providing the possibility of out-of-court dispute resolution by the regulator at the request of consumers. Filing a claim to the court takes a lot of time and resources, so consumers rarely go to court to defend their rights. The draft law also provides for increased fines for operators for violation of consumer rights.
  2. The right to order and receive individual services without having to order a package of services only. For example, when operators provide only voice services, without the Internet access service.
  3. Creating an electronic tool to compare the terms of service of different providers.
  4. The right to opt out of unwanted emailing. The operators will pay administrative fines for spamming.
  5. The guaranteed right of everyone to access the Internet and providing targeted subsidies to low-income consumers.

In addition, the draft law improves the operational environment for e-communication service providers. The proposed changes include:

  1. The long-awaited introduction of the principle of technological neutrality. The licenses for radio frequency resource use for operators will not specify specific technologies, and their use will be determined only by the plan of radio frequency resource use.
  2. Regulatory predictability. The obligations of market participants and the rules of their activity will be determined solely by the Law and cannot be extended by regulatory acts. The vague or questionable text of the law will be interpreted in favor of market participants.
  3. Prevention of monopolies and protection of competition, including in the case of concentration of radio frequencies by individual market participants. The regulator will be able to analyze wholesale and retail markets and take pre-regulation measures to ensure fair competition.
  4. The predictability of changes in the rental rates for frequencies. The calculation of rates will be based on an approved methodology that takes into account public policy objectives, the effective use of radio frequency spectrum, the actual availability of frequencies, the costs associated with the terms of licenses for frequency use and the costs of radio frequency monitoring.
  5. The draft law provides for the possibility of co-location and use of elements of e-communications network infrastructure helping to reduce the costs of operators for the deployment of communications networks.

The draft law also stipulates that the state will identify areas with no Internet access, in particular because it is economically unprofitable for operators to provide their services there. In such cases, the possibility of deploying electronic communications networks by providing providers with free access to state and municipal infrastructure and, consequently, by reducing the cost of network construction will be considered. The full information about the real broadband Internet coverage of Ukraine will allow to gradually provide consumers with access to universal services throughout the country in the most efficient way.

It is important that the adoption of the document will also be one of the major steps towards the EU digital single market. Ukraine is implementing the latest EU legislation in the field of electronic communications, as the draft law is based on the European Code of Electronic Communications 2018, which will provide legislative stability for the Ukrainian e-communications market.

We hope for the early consideration of the draft law by the Parliament.

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