Ηλεκτρονικές Επικοινωνίες

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Greece is a member of the World Trade Organisation and the International Telecommunication Union, having therefore implemented both the WTO 1996 Reference Paper on Basic Telecommunications and the ITU 1989 International Telecommunication Regulations into Greek law.

The 2002 EU Regulatory Framework on electronic communications was implemented in Greek law on January 17, 2006 with the adoption of the Act no. 3431/2006, which transposed the following directives: (i) the Access Directive (Directive 2002/19/EC), (ii) the Authorization Directive (Directive 2002/20/EC), (iii) the Framework Directive (Directive 2002/21/EC) (iv) the Universal Service Directive (Directive 2002/22/EC) and (v) the Competition Directive (Directive 2002/77/EC).

Legal Framework

At present, the main law governing the operation of electronic communications networks and the provision of electronic communications services is the Act no. 4070/2012, hereinafter referred to as the “Electronic Communications Act” or “ECA” (GG 82/B/10-04-2012). The Electronic Communications Act transposed Directives 2009/136/EC and 2009/140/EC into Greek law and repealed the Act no. 3431/2006. The ECA determines the public interest objectives and the competent state authorities in the field of electronic communications. It also contains the basic legal provisions for the regulation of the sector, in specific the provisions regarding general authorisation, rights of way, numbering, radio spectrum management, co-location, mobile communications antennae licensing, access and interconnection, network security, radio and telecommunications equipment, market analysis and ex ante regulation of operators with significant market power (SMP), universal service, consumer protection, dispute resolution and the imposition of administrative fines and criminal sanctions.

The most important legal provisions relevant to electronic communications, which can be found in various other Acts, Presidential Decrees and Ministerial Decisions, are the following :

  • Article 1 of Act no. 2801/2000 (GG 46/A/03-03-2000) : Licensing of Mobile Communications Antennae .
  • Ministerial Decision no. 53571/3839/2000 (GG 1105/B/06-09-2000) : Protection of the General Public from the Operation of Mobile Communications Antennae.
  • Presidential Decree no. 44/2002 (GG 44/A/07-03-2002) : Radio- and tele- communications equipment / Transposition of Directive 99/5/EC.
  • Ministerial Decision no. 20490/525/2012 (GG 1444/B/02-05-2012) : National regulation on the allocation of radio spectrum frequencies.
  • Ministerial Decision no. 26634/924/2007 (GG 768/B/15-05-2007) : National numbering plan.
  • Ministerial Decision no. 44035/1626/2007 (GG 1481/B/16-08-2007) : Universal service.
  • Article 33 of Act no. 3775/2009 (GG 122/A/21-07-2009) : Special tax on mobile telephony services.
  • Ministerial Decision no. 72146/2316/2009 (GG 21/B/07-01-2009) : Technical specifications of the establishment of electronic communication networks.
  • Ministerial Decision no. 725/23/2012 (GG 5/B/05-01-2012) : Procedure for assignment of rights of way.
  • Ministerial Decision no. 7560/153/2012 (GG 305/B/14-02-2012) : Obligations for safeguarding the integrity of public electronic communication networks on a fixed location.

National Telecommunications & Post Commission (NTPC)

According to articles 6 – 17 of the Electronic Communications Act, the NTPC is the national regulatory authority (NRA) of article 3 of Directive 2002/21/EC, which is responsible for the supervision of the electronic communications sector in Greece. The NTPC enjoys wide powers under the ECA to enact secondary regulation and specify in detail several of its provisions. Under these powers the NTPC has issued numerous regulations, the most important of which are the following :

  • The Public Consultations Regulation (GG 314/B/16-03-2006).
  • The General Authorisations Regulation (GG 748/B/21-06-2006).
  • The Radio Frequencies Assignment Regulation (GG 750/B/21-06-2006).
  • The Regulation for the Management and Assignment of Numbering Resources (GG 1260/B/23-07-2007).
  • The Co-location Regulation (GG 885/B/14-05-2008).
  • The Code of Conduct on the Provision of Electronic Communication Services to Consumers (GG 1505/B/30-07-2008).
  • The Access and Interconnection Regulation (GG 369/B/03-03-2009).
  • The Regulation on Rights of Way Fees (GG 1375/B/10-07-2009).
  • The Number Portability Regulation (GG 967/B/30-06-2010).
  • The Code of Conduct on Premium Rate Services (GG 1651/B/15-10-2010).
  • The Regulation for the Management and Assignment of .GR Domain Names (GG 593/B/14-04-2011).

Under the ECA the NTPC is also responsible for enacting ex ante regulation and imposing specific obligations to operators with significant market power (SMP) in the relevant electronic communications markets. Furthermore, the NTPC holds concurrent competence with the National Competition Commission for the enforcement of ex post competition law in the electronic communications sector(article 12 παρ. στ’, η’, λδ’ of ECA).

The NTPC has the power to intervene and resolve disputes between undertakings, whether national or cross border, and to impose administrative fines of up to 3.000.000 Euros or even revoke the general authorisation of undertakings in cases when the ECA or the secondary regulatory framework are violated (see articles 34 and 77 of the ECA).

For the execution of its duties the NTPC has powers to conduct inspections, inquiries and confiscations for reasons of collecting information and investigating cases of ECA and competition law violations, as wide as those held by the National Competition Commission (see p. 2.5.2. below).

Licensing & Authorisation Obligations

According to article 18 of the ECA, the establishment and operation of electronic communication networks and the provision of electronic communication services to the public are free, subject to a preliminary declaration to the NTPC. After registering the declaration, the interested entity comes under the General Authorisations regime and is obliged to provide public communication networks or publicly available electronic communication services under the General Authorisations Regulation of the NTPC (GG 748/B/21-06-2006), as each time in force. Furthermore, it is obliged to provide any relevant information requested by the NTPC in the context of its duties (see article 38 of the ECA). General authorisations have no time limits but may be suspended or revoked in cases of a serious violation of electronic communications law.

Undertakings that provide cross – border electronic communication services to companies established in other member -states of the European Union are not required to register their declaration in Greece on the condition that they have registered in another member – state.

After filing, the NTPC is bound by law to immediately perform the enlistment of the declaration at the “Register of Persons Functioning under General Authorisation”. However delays of one or two weeks are observed in practice due to bureaucratic reasons.

After having registered, the authorised entity has the obligation to pay an annual administrative fee to the NTPC, equal to a certain percentage of its total gross income derived from the provision of the authorised services .

Rights of Way

Rights of way in Greece are regulated by article 28 of the Electronic Communications Act, the Ministerial Decision no. 725/23/2012 on the procedure for assignment of rights of way (GG 5/B/05-01-2012) and the NTPC Regulation on Rights of Way Fees (GG 1375/B/10-07-2009). Especially, the Ministerial Decision mentioned above, which was issued in the beginning of 2012, has been a great leap forward compared to the previous fragmented regime of local authorities setting ad-hoc procedures, as it established a common authorisation procedure for the granting of rights of way and for the settlement of fees.

Rights of way refer to rights to install, operate, control and dispose of any establishments, technical means or infrastructure (e.g. masts, cables, tubes, ducts, hovels) regarding electronic communications networks upon property (see article 2 παρ. 3 and 4 of the Ministerial Decision).

Under the current legal framework, undertakings authorised to operate electronic communications networks have the right to apply and acquire rights of way (see article 19 παρ. 1β of the ECA). If the networks are public, then rights of way may be granted on both public and private property, whereas, if the networks are only private, rights of way can only be granted on public property (see article 28 παρ. 1 of the ECA).

Rights of way upon public property are granted by the public authority, under the control of which the property lies (see articles 28 παρ. 2 and 3 of the ECA and 5 of the Decision). The NTPC has uploaded in its official website an electronic file with the relevant contact details of all competent public authorities regarding rights of way. The procedure for the acquisition of rights of way upon public property is as follows (see articles 28 παρ. 5 – 8 and 3 of the ECA and 6 – 7 of the Decision):

  • The interested operator files the application to be granted rights of way at the public authority, which is in control of the relevant property. The application is accompanied by certain documentation regarding the specifications of the applied rights of way.
  • If the execution of the rights of way requires the conduct of excavations, the application should be accompanied by an application to conduct such works.
  • Within thirty (30) days from filing the competent authority issues its decision, otherwise rights of way are deemed to be tacitly approved. In case that the networks to be routed are private, the aforementioned deadline is extended to ninety (90) days.
  • In case that the public authority’s decision is negative, the operator may apply to the NTPC for the resolution of the dispute. The decision may also amend the routing of the networks or other elements of the application.
  • In case that the public authority’s decision is positive, the operator registers within twenty (20) days a file with, inter alia, a letter of guarantee, a bank letter of evidence that the relevant fees have been paid and an insurance contract covering any possible damages during the works.
  • Before the commencement of the works the operator notifies the public authority’s decision to the local traffic police department and, if needed to other competent authorities. If a decision has not been issued within the
  • deadline mentioned above and, therefore, the rights of way have been tacitly approved, the notification of the application to the local traffic police department shall be deemed to embody such tacit approval.

The approval of rights of way includes the right to conduct works for the restoration of damages on the condition of a prior notice to the competent authorities (see article 28 παρ. 9 of the ECA). As an exception, depending on the nature of the public property the rights of way refer to, the operator may have to acquire prior approval from the authorities of article 28 παρ. 5 of the ECA before commencing the procedure described above.

Rights of way are subject to the deposit of letters of guarantee and the payment of fees, both set – up and annual, to the competent public authorities, the calculation of which is specifically described under the NTPC Regulation on Rights of Way Fees.

The acquisition of rights of way upon private property is regulated under the general provisions of the Civil Code and the public law of expropriation(see article 28 παρ. 7 of the ECA). According to these provisions, the operator has the right to establish a right of way through private property by expropriation and the payment of reasonable compensation to the owner of the property.

Finally, electronic communication network operators have the obligation under the law to give to the NTPC and keep updated the maps with the topology of their networks throughout the territory of the Greek state.

The technical specifications for the establishment of electronic communications networks outside buildings are defined by the Ministerial Decision no. 72146/2316/2008 (GG 21/B/07−01−2009).

Satellite Facilities & Submarine Cables

The radio spectrum frequencies allocated for use by satellite facilities are described at the National Regulation on the Allocation of Radio Spectrum Frequencies (Ministerial Decision no. 20490/525/2012, GG 1444/B/02-05-2012). The terms and procedures for the assignment of available radio spectrum frequencies for use by satellite facilities are defined by the NTPC Radio Frequencies Assignment Regulation (GG 750/B/21-06-2006), as analysed in paragraph 5.2.7.1 below.

Since 23 August 2001, the Greek state has granted a special license to Hellas SAT to exploit its exclusive orbit rights (see the Ministerial Decision no. 457/2001) along with the relevant radio spectrum rights of use (see the Ministerial Decision no. 37629/1571/F1/2010). Other rights of use for fixed satellite services have not been granted.

There is a legal loop regarding the deployment of submarine cables in the territory of the Greek state, as there are no specific legal provisions or regulations on the matter.

Despite the lack of a relevant legal framework the following recommendations can be given. Since the NTPC and the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks are competent for electronic communications matters according to the Act no. 4070/2012, the application for the deployment of a submarine cable should be addressed to these public authorities. As a minimum, the application will have to contain a description of the submarine cable, including the type and number of channels and the capacity thereof, and a specific description of the cable routing and its landing stations on the shore of the territory of the Greek state and/or in foreign countries, where the cable will land, along with data regarding the applicant company and the prospective owners of the cable. In addition, individual licensing may be needed for environmental impact and maritime security reasons by Greek authorities competent to these matters.

If the submarine cable under deployment is bound to cross international waters or land in foreign countries, the filing of a petition before the Foreign Affairs Office should also be normally required.

Mobile Communications Antennae Construction & Operation

The construction of mobile communication antennae is subject to licensing (see article 1 παρ. 2α of the Act no. 2801/2000, GG 46/A/03-03-2000). Before the enactment of the Electronic Communications Act, the construction of mobile communication antennae in Greece involved the acquisition of licenses from nine (9) separate public authorities, compared to the 2 – 4 European average.. Therefore, the licensing procedure for each antenna lasted up to 1.8 years in urban areas and up to 2.2 years in rural areas on average.

By enactment of the Electronic Communications Act no. 4070/2012, the Greek state established an one – stop – shop procedure for the licensing of mobile communication antennae and appointed the NTPC as the focal point for submitting all necessary documentation, applications and files to the competent administrative authorities and issuing the necessary permissions – licenses. In this context, in December 2012 the NTPC started the operation of an electronic system for the submission of the relevant documentation (SHLYA), in order to further facilitate the licensing procedure.

In addition, by virtue of article 31 of the Act no. 4053/2012 (GG 44/A/07-03-2012) the Greek state granted under certain conditions an immunity period of twenty four (24) months for all mobile communications antennae already installed but without the operators having acquired the necessary licenses, in order to give time for their acquisition under the newly enacted legal framework.

According to the legal framework currently in force, before the construction of the relevant antenna the interested mobile network operator files through SHLYA an application to the NTPC with documentation that fulfills the conditions for the issuance of the following administrative sub-licenses :

  • Civil Aviation approval.
  • NTPC site installation license.
  • Hellenic Atomic Energy Commission pronouncement .
  • Model Environmental Study or in exceptional circumstances (e.g. NATURA regions or for antennae with more than 30 microwave links) Environmental Impact Assessment Study.
  • City Planning office permit.
  • Antiquities Archaeological Services approval (for archaeological sites, if needed).
  • Forestall land characterization decision (for forestall sites, if needed)
  • Forestall service permit and delivery protocol (for public forestall sites, if needed).

Regarding the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment, prior positive opinions are required by the following public authorities :

  • Hellenic Atomic Energy Commission
  • Archaeological Services
  • Forestry Services
  • Municipalities
  • Prefecture Councils
  • City Planning Services or
  • any other Authority the District considers as necessary.

If, within four (4) months from the date that the application along with all the relevant documentation has been submitted to SHLYA, there are no negative responses for the competent public authorities mentioned above, then the NTPC issues a Certificate of File Completeness, by virtue of which the mobile network operator may lawfully construct the relevant mobile communications antenna (see article 30 παρ. 17 Γα of the ECA).

Even though the new licensing framework of the ECA is a great leap forward compared to the inefficient and extremely slow licensing regime of the past, its one – stop – shop procedure has already encountered problems of implementation and delay and its actual effect remains to be seen in practice. Indicatively, the NTPC has not yet issued the Decision provided under articles 12 παρ. λα and 30 παρ. 17 of the ECA, which will specify the licensing procedure and the required documentation.

In addition, the new regime gives the right to mobile network operators to license standardised mobile communications antennae under a much simpler administrative procedure before the NTPC (see the Ministerial Decision no. 11926/261/2011, GG 453/B/22-03-2011 and the NTPC Decision no. 629/9/2011, GG 3037/B/30.12.2011).

Apart from licensing, mobile communications antennae have to operate under legitimate radiation limits, as these are described in the Ministerial Decision no. 53571/3839/2000 (GG 1105/B/06-09-2000) and the Hellenic Atomic Energy Commission Circular no. Π/105/014/12-01-2007. Both the latter and the NTPC are the authorities responsible for the compliance of mobile network operators with the legitimate radiation limits and have the powers to conduct ad hoc investigations at mobile communications antennae, either after the receipt of a complaint or at their own discretion.

In case that mobile network operators fail to comply with the mobile communications antennae licensing and operation provisions, the NTPC has the powers to impose fines up to 300.000 € per illegal antenna and notify urban planning authorities, so that the latter proceed to the demolition of the illegal antenna. Furthermore, the legal representative of the mobile network operator (CEO, member of the BoD or special representative for antennae licensing and operation) may face criminal charges of up to two (2) years of imprisonment, whereas the antenna equipment may be confiscated (see article 1 παρ. 5 of the Act no. 2801/2000).

Radio and Telecommunications Equipment

The placing on the market, free circulation and use of radio and telecommunications equipment is regulated by the Presidential Decree no. 44/2002 (GG 44/A/07-03-2002), which transposed Directive 99/5/EC into Greek law. The NTPC is the public authority with the responsibility to supervise the lawful application of the Decree in the relevant markets.

The essential requirements applicable to all radio and telecommunications equipment are (Article 3 of the Decree) :

  • Requirements for the protection of the health and safety of the user and any other person, including the objectives with respect to safety requirements contained in Directive 73/23/EEC (transposed into the Greek legislation with KYA 470/ 1985 and modified with KYA Β 6467/608/88), but with no voltage limit applying.
  • Protection requirements with respect to electromagnetic compatibility contained in Directive 89/336/EEC, as it is modified by Directive 92/31/EC and 93/68/EC (transposed into the Greek legislation with KYA 94649/8682/93).
  • In addition, radio equipment shall be so constructed that it effectively uses the spectrum allocated to terrestrial/space radio communication and orbital resources so as to avoid harmful interference.

The interfaces for electronic communications networks shall abide by articles 40 of the ECA and 4 παρ. 2 and 3 of the Decree, whereas, accordingly, provisions for the interfaces of radio communications networks are stipulated in article 4 παρ. 1 of the Decree. Finally, the terms and conditions, under which electronic communication network operators should make publicly available and communicate to the NTPC the technical specifications of all types of interfaces, so that this publication will permit manufacturers to design and produce apparatus suitable for operation in their networks, are laid down in the NTPC Decision no. 294/55/2003, (GG 1590/B/06-11-2003).

In case that electronic communication network/service providers fail to comply with the regulation of radio and telecommunications equipment, the NTPC has the powers, inter alia, to impose fines up to 60.000 € (see article 77 παρ. 3 of the ECA). Furthermore, the legal representative of the mobile network operator (CEO, member of the BoD or special representative for such matters) may face criminal charges of up to six (6) months imprisonment and a financial fine of up to 1.500.000 € (see article 76 of the ECA).

Numbering

The management and allocation of numbering resources in Greece is primarily regulated by article 22 and Appendix VII of the Act no. 4070/2012. The secondary framework is located in the Ministerial Decision no. 26634/924/2007 (GG 768/B/15-05-2007), enacting the National Numbering Plan (NNP), as this has been amended by Ministerial Decision no. 26073/937/2010 (GG 805/B/09-06-2010). Furthermore, numbering is also regulated by the NTPC Regulation for the Management and Assignment of Numbering Resources (GG 1260/B/23-07-2007), as this has been amended thrice by NTPC Decisions no. 461/059/30-11-2007 (GG 2437/B/28-12-2007), 570/028/2010 (GG 1148/B.30-07-2010) and 634/135/2012 (GG 266/B/13-02-2012).

The National Numbering Plan defines the spectrum of the numbering resources that may be allocated and the types of use that are permitted for each numbering resources. Thus, the 2007 NNP determined the numbering resources for codes for emergency services, geographical and non – geographical numbers, short codes for premium rate services personal numbers etc. By its amendments in 2010 a further ten digit numbering range has been made available for the provision of mobile telecommunication service (68B XXX XXXX (B=5-9) and the ten digit numbering ranges 850 (850 XXX XXXX) and 875 (875 XXX XXXX) have been allocated for the provision of VAS services with a maximum price cap. The NTPC Regulation proceeds in further details regarding the permissible use of numbering resources, the obligations of rights’ holders and the conditions of numbering trading.

Rights to use numbering resources are assigned by filing an application to the NTPC, in hard copy or electronically. The relevant assignment decision is issued up to three (3) weeks after the date that the application has been filed (see art. 22 παρ. 4 of ECA). The decision contains specific terms and conditions, which will have to be followed by the rights’ holder during the use of the assigned numbering resource (see Appendix VII to the ECA, the NNP and the NTPC Regulation). The assignment of each resource is subject to set – up and annual fees (see art. 9 of the NTPC Regulation). The transfer of numbering resources is permitted under certain conditions upon prior notification to the NTPC. The register of already assigned numbers and their holders is publicly available and can searched at the official NTPC website.

Radio Spectrum Management

According to Greek law the radio spectrum is considered to be a scarce public resource with significant value and, therefore, is vested under the control of the State. The Minister of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks is the authority responsible to allocate the national spectrum. In accordance to its powers, the Minister has enacted the National Regulation on the Allocation of Radio Spectrum Frequencies (Ministerial Decision no. 20490/525/2012, GG 1444/B/02-05-2012).

The management of the radio spectrum is conducted by the NTPC, which has the power to allocate the spectrum and assign individual rights of use for specific frequencies to interested parties (see art. 21 of the ECA). The terms for the assignment of radio spectrum frequencies are further defined by the NTPC Radio Frequencies Assignment Regulation (GG 750/B/21-06-2006).

Spectrum can solely be allocated to legal entities. Individual rights of use are assigned for a limited time and under terms and conditions stipulated in the assignment decision of the NTPC. In case there is sufficient spectrum available for assignment, rights of use are granted within six (6) weeks from the date of filing the relevant application to the NTPC. In case there is not sufficient spectrum available for assignment, the Minister imposes limitations in the use of the relevant radio frequencies following a corresponding proposal by the NTPC. Within eight (8) months after the Ministerial Decision the NTPC proceeds with the assignment either by auction or “beauty”contest or by any other kind of a transparent, objective, impartial, proportionate and open procedure.

The fees imposed for the assignment of radio spectrum rights of use shall be based on objective and transparent criteria and shall be determined with the aim to ensure the optimal exercise of the relevant rights of use (see arts. 21 and 75 ECA).

The duration of the radio spectrum rights of use may not last more than ten (10) years (see art. 9 of the NTPC Radio Frequencies Assignment Regulation). Rights of use may be renewed by an application of the rights’ holder at least sixty (60) days before expiry. The NTPC has the powers to amend assigned rights of use by a justified decision for reasons of spectrum refarming and/or effective spectrum use. It may also suspend or revoke assigned right in cases that the rights’ holder violates the terms and conditions of their assignment.

Unlawful interference is criminally prosecuted and punished by imprisonment of up to six (6) months and a financial fine of up to 1.500.000 € (see article 76 of the ECA).

In June 2010, Directive 2009/114/EC was transposed into Greek law by virtue of Ministerial Decision no. 58626/2224/2010 (GG 918/B/24-06-2010), paving the way to the coexistence of GSM and UMTS systems in the 900 MHz in respect of the principle of technological neutrality (see also Decision 2009/766/EC for the 1800 MHz). Furthermore, article 12 παρ. μβ of the Act no. 4070/2012 establishes the principle of technology neutrality, which should be interpreted to also cover the assignment of radio spectrum rights of use.

In this context of spectrum liberalisation, in 2011 the NTPC initiated and completed the procedure for the liberalization of the use of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz by auctioning the relevant rights of use to the three MNOs active in the market in a technologically neutral way.

Spectrum trading is regulated under the Ministerial Decision no. 39957/1650/2008 (GG 1836/B/12-09-2008) and the NTPC Regulation on the Transfer of Radio Spectrum Rights of Use (GG 638/B/27-04-2007).

According to the Decision and the Regulation the leasing or transfer of radio spectrum rights of use is permitted, subject to prior approval by the NTPC. The Ministerial Decision further permits the leasing or transfer of a part of , instead of all, the radio frequencies assigned.

In all cases that there is a significant change of control in the rights’ holder’s shares, such a change of control is subject to prior approval by the NTPC. If the NTPC judges that the terms and conditions of the assignment are not fulfilled after the change of control, it may proceed to its rejection (see art. 7 of the NTPC Regulation on the Transfer of Radio Spectrum Rights of Use).

Due to the fact that the deadline set by the European Commission for the analogue switch-off of terrestrial broadcasting has expired on January 1, 2012, and the deadline for the full availability of the 800 MHz radio frequencies for wireless broadband services will also expire on January 1, 2013, the Greek Government has applied for a derogation to the European Commission until June 30, 2014, arguing on the basis of the critical situation of the Greek economy and the unattractive conditions of the Greek electronic communications market.

In June 2009, the NTPC published a report by Aegis on digital dividend options in Greece. Aegis recommends the allocation of the 790 – 862 MHz radio spectrum frequencies to mobile broadband (72 ΜΗz in sum). Nevertheless, this option lies on the precondition that spectrum use by the army within these frequencies will be transferred to another part of the spectrum.

In any case, whenever the 800 MHz radio frequencies are assigned by the Greek state, they will have to be granted under the technology neutral terms and conditions of Commission Decision 2010/267/EU for non-broadcasting services.

Access & Interconnection

Under the laws of Greece lawfully authorised operators of electronic communications networks have certain ex ante obligations regarding access to and interconnection with their networks. These obligations are stipulated in the Electronic Communications Act no. 4070/2012 and the regulatory framework enacted by the NTPC.

Access is defined as the making available of facilities and/or services, to another undertaking, under defined conditions, on either an exclusive or non-exclusive basis, for the purpose of providing electronic communications services, including also cases where these services are used for the diffusion of information society services or radio and TV content services. It covers inter alia: access to network elements and associated facilities, which may involve the connection of equipment, by fixed or non-fixed means (in particular this includes access to the local loop and to facilities and services necessary to provide services over the local loop), access to physical infrastructure including buildings, ducts and masts; access to relevant software systems including operational support systems, access to number translation or systems offering equivalent functionality, access to fixed and mobile networks, in particular for roaming, access to conditional access systems for digital television services; access to virtual network services (see article 2A λγ of the ECA).

Associated facilities are defined as those associated services, physical infrastructures and other facilities or elements associated with an electronic communications network and/or an electronic communications service which enable and/or support the provision of services via that network and/or service or have the potential to do so, and include, inter alia, buildings or entries to buildings, building wiring, antennae, towers and other supporting constructions, ducts, conduits, masts, manholes, and cabinets (see article 2A λζ of the ECA).

Furthermore, interconnection is defined as the physical and logical linking of public communications networks used by the same or a different undertaking in order to allow the users of one undertaking to communicate with users of the same or another undertaking, or to access services provided by another undertaking. Services may be provided by the parties involved or other parties who have access to the network. Interconnection is a specific type of access implemented between public network operators (see article 2A ιβ of the ECA).

The NTPC is the authority competent to ensure the lawful application of the framework, to resolve disputes between supervised undertakings (see article 34 of the ECA) and impose administrative fines of up to 3.000.000 Euros or even revoke the general authorisation of undertakings in cases when the ECA or the secondary regulatory framework are violated (see article 77 of the ECA). The NTPC has the powers to ensure adequate access and interconnection between undertakings by imposing obligations (see article 47 of the ECA) :

On undertakings that control access to end-users to the extent that is necessary to ensure end-to-end connectivity, including in justified cases the obligation to interconnect their networks where this is not already the case .
On undertakings which control access to end-users, in justified cases and to the extent that is necessary, to render their services interoperable.

According to article 19 of the ECA, lawfully authorised providers of electronic communications networks/services have the obligation, when justifiably requested by other undertakings so authorised in the country or in another member – state, to negotiate interconnection with each other in good faith.

The obligation mentioned above is further specified in the NTPC Regulation no. 506/37/2009 on the determination of the terms and conditions for the provision of access and interconnection (GG 369/B/03-03-2009). According to the Regulation, providers of electronic communications networks/services shall provide interconnection to their network on an non – discriminatory basis and under justifiable conditions (see article 3 of the Regulation). Furthermore, they shall provide access on an non – discriminatory basis and give detailed information to contracting parties on the fees imposed (see article 3 of the Regulation). In addition, the Regulation describes the minimum required content of an interconnection agreement (see article 9 of the Regulation) and provides for the confidentiality of the information exchanged during negotiations for at least five (5) years (see article 9 of the Regulation).

In case that a formal request for interconnection is received, providers of electronic communications networks/services shall abide by the following timescale of negotiations (see articles 6 and 7 of the Regulation) :

  • Filing of a request for an interconnection agreement with the minimum required content provided under article 8 of the Regulation.
  • Signature of a non – disclosure agreement within ten (10) days.
  • Notice to the requestor within fifteen (15) days, in case the request is imperfect.
  • Notice to the requestor within thirty (30) days, in case the request is not accepted as unjustifiable in its terms.
  • Provision of information about the interconnection within forty (40) days from the signature of the NDA, in case there is such a request for information.
  • Signature of the interconnection agreement within ninety (90) days from the receipt of the request, unless such request is amended and the ninety (90) days term renewed.

According to article 29 of the ECA, the NTPC has the powers to impose obligations on lawfully authorised operators of electronic communications networks on the sharing of their facilities or property, including buildings, entries to buildings, building wiring, masts, antennae, towers and other supporting constructions, ducts, conduits, manholes, cabinets, with other operators. Furthermore, operators shall be obliged to provide, if requested, the necessary information to the NTPC, so that the latter is able to establish a detailed inventory of the nature, availability and geographical location of the facilities referred to above and make such information available to other interested operators.

On the basis of article 29 of the ECA the NTPC has issued the Co-location Regulation (GG 885/B/14-05-2008) specifying the obligations of electronic communications networks’ operators in regard to co – location and the sharing of associated facilities. The Regulation gives operators the right to negotiate and conclude agreements with other operators on commercial terms regarding co – location and the sharing of associated facilities. After having been signed, these agreements are filed to the NTPC. The Regulation describes the minimum required content of a frame agreement on co – location and sharing (see article 9 of the Regulation) and provides for objective criteria for the calculation of the cost of co – location (see article 13 of the Regulation). By its Decision no. 570/033/2010 (GG 1330/B/30-08-2010) the NTPC amended the Regulation and inserted an obligatory template of a frame agreement for the co – location of mobile communications antennae.

In case that a formal request for co – location and/or sharing is received, operators shall abide by the following timescale of negotiations (see articles 6 and 7 of the Regulation) :

  • Provision of information about facilities or property within fifteen (15) days from the request for information.
  • Filing of a request for a frame agreement on co – location and sharing.
  • Signature of the frame agreement on co – location and sharing within forty five (45) days from the receipt of the request.
  • Filing of a request for the co – location and/or sharing of a specific facility or site with the minimum required content provided under article 8 of the Regulation.
  • Response to the request by the shipment of the relevant technical study, time – scale and cost for the execution of the co – location and/or sharing within twenty five (25) days, unless the request is rejected for specific reasons provided under article 7 of the Regulation.
  • Approval of the response within five (5) days.
  • Execution of the relevant co – location and sharing works and hand – over of the project.
  • Acceptance of the project within ten (10) days from the hand – over date.

Issues regarding Mobile Virtual Network Operators’ (MVNO) access and interconnection matters fall in the context of the market for wholesale access and call origination on mobile public networks, i.e. market no. 15 of Recommendation 2003/311/EC on relevant markets. Market no. 15 has not been included by the European Commission in the recent and currently in force Recommendation 2007/879/EC as a market subject to ex ante regulation by National Regulatory Authorities, on the basis of the fact that it characterised in most countries by effective competition, since Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with excess network capacity have already concluded numerous access agreements with MVNOs on commercial terms.

The Greek mobile telephony networks/services market is an oligopoly of three market players, all having their own networks. Therefore, the absence of an established MVNO has informally drawn the attention of the NTPC on the matter. There are three cases, under which the NTPC may intervene in order to impose ex ante or ex post regulation of the market in order to facilitate the entry of an MVNO :

(i) Under article 19 of the ECA, MNOs have the obligation to negotiate in good faith with legally authorised MVNOs the access to the formers’ network facilities and services on a commercial non – discriminatory basis. The ECA also empowers the NTPC to supervise the whole market and intervene in order to ensure that such obligations are respected. In addition, it gives the power to the NTPC to impose obligations on undertakings that control access to end-users to the extent that is necessary to ensure end-to-end connectivity. Furthermore, article 34 of the ECA gives the NTPC the power to intervene between undertakings and resolve disputes by imposing appropriate ex ante obligations. All the above make possible the interpretation of the relevant legal framework by the NTPC in such a way so as to extend access obligations to MNOs without SMP in order to facilitate MVNO entry in the market.

(ii) Another possibility of an MVNO entry in the market following an intervention by the NTPC is the ex post regulation of the market. In case negotiations of all three MNOs with a prospective MVNO come to a dead-end and the NTPC is employed to solve the dispute under its competition law powers, then the latter may identify the existence of collective dominance between all three Greek MNOs, consider their negotiation as a constructive refusal and impose access obligations under the Competition Act no. 3959/2011. In this case though it has to be taken into account that the NTPC has already conducted an analysis of M 15/2003 with its Decision no. 410/35/15-11-2010 and has concluded that no Greek MNO holds SMP, on its own or collectively, and, therefore, that this specific market is effectively competitive.

(iii) In its latest 2011 Decisions for the granting of radio spectrum rights of use to all three MNOs the NTPC has also inserted radio spectrum access obligations in favour of MVNOs. Even though these administrative decision do not apply horizontally on the market, it is not unlikely that the NTPC may utilise them in the future as a legal basis to intervene and resolve possible disputes during the phase of negotiations in favour of prospective MVNOs.

Greek electronic communications law does not have any specific legal provisions regarding international roaming services. Furthermore, the NTPC has never intervened under its powers to resolve disputes between undertakings or impose sanctions in relation to such services.

As a result, international roaming in the country is solely regulated by the relevant European Commission Regulations. The introduction of direct wholesale and wholesale resale international roaming services in the domestic market, as these are provided under Regulation 531/2012/EC (Roaming Regulation III), is bound to cause instability and may even lead to hearings before the NTPC. In such cases, it will have to be taken as granted that the NTPC will strictly follow the relevant Guidelines of BEREC on the matter, since the NTPC Chairman is currently also the chairman of BEREC.

Under articles 41 – 45 of the ECA, the NTPC is empowered to designate providers of electronic communication networks/services as having Significant Market Power (SMP) and impose on them obligations of transparency, impartiality, non – discrimination, accounting or functional separation,access to, and use of, specific network facilities, price control and cost accounting. Such obligations are imposed after an analysis of the relevant market, the prior approval of the European Commission and, in some cases, an opinion by BEREC.

In terms of price control, after conducting an analysis for each market , the NTPC has regulated on a cost – oriented basis the prices of OTE, the incumbent fixed operator, in the fixed retail market and its tariffs in the wholesale markets no. 2 – 5 of the Recommendation 2007/879/EC. It has also regulated on a cost – oriented basis the termination rates, both mobile and fixed, of all other market players. In addition, the NTPC constantly monitors OTE’s cost accounting for all regulated markets and publishes the results (for the year 2012 see the NTPC Decision 640/16/21-02-2012).

Regarding the Market no. 1, since 2006 the NTPC has designated OTE with SMP and has imposed on the latter the full set of obligations provided under the law (obligation of access, obligation of transparency, obligation of non discrimination, obligation of cost control/accounting separation and obligation of cost oriented prices). In 2008 the NTPC imposed on OTE the obligation to have a Reference Wholesale Line Rental Offer (RwLRO) on a retail minus basis. Finally, OTE is obliged to acquire prior approval by the NTPC for its retail bundled/tying products for reasons predatory/excessive pricing control.

Regarding the Markets no. 2 and 3, since 2006 the NTPC has designated OTE with SMP and has imposed on the latter the full set of obligations provided under the law. In 2007 the NTPC imposed on OTE the obligation to have a Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO). The NTPC has also designated all other fixed operators with SMP.

Regarding the Market no. 4, since 2006 the NTPC has designated OTE with SMP and has imposed on the latter the full set of obligations provided under the law. The NTPC also imposed on OTE the obligation to have a Reference Unbundling Offer (RUO). In February 2009, additional obligations have been imposed regarding the provision of subloop unbundling, duct sharing and dark fibre. The NTPC has also issued its Decision no. 636/37/2012 (GG 729/B/13-03-2012) on the Access Network Frequency Plan in the Local Loop, which determines the standards and profiles to be implemented in the OTE Access Copper network for the avoidance of interference and low quality (in terms of speed) for the end users.

Regarding the Market no. 5, since 2006 the NTPC has designated OTE with SMP and has imposed on the latter the full set of obligations provided under the law. The NTPC also imposed on OTE the obligation to have a Reference Broadband Offer (RBO). Inter alia, additional obligations have been imposed regarding the non – discrimination between the retail and wholesale arm of OTE especially for new products that focus on quality differentiation.

Regarding the Market no. 6, since 2006 the NTPC has designated OTE with SMP and has imposed on the latter the full set of obligations provided under the law. The NTPC also imposed on OTE the obligation to have a Reference Leased Lines Offer (RLLO) and a Reference of Partial Private Circuits Offer (RPPCO).

Regarding the Market no. 7, since 2006 the NTPC has designated all three MNOs with SMP and has imposed on the latter the full set of obligations provided under the law. The NTPC also imposed on MNOs the obligation to have a Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO).

The following table depicts the status in Greece on the analysis of each market under Recommendation 2007/879/EC as of December 2012 :

Market no.

Market Description

Round of Analysis

Undertakings with SMP

Reference Offer

1

Access to the public telephone network at a fixed location for residential and non-residential customers on a retail level

2nd

OTE

Reference Wholesale Line Rental Offer (RwLRO)

2

Call origination on the public telephone network provided at a fixed location on a wholesale level

2nd

OTE

Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO)

3

Call termination on individual public telephone networks provided at a fixed location on a wholesale level

2nd

OTE

ALGONET

COSMOLINE

COSMOTE

CYTA (HELLAS)

FORTHNET

HELLAS ONLINE

ΝΕΤ ΟΝΕ

ON TELECOMS

VIVODI

VOICENET

VODAFONE

WIND

4

Wholesale (physical) network infrastructure access (including shared or fully unbundled access) at a fixed location on a wholesale level

3rd

OTE

Reference Unbundling Offer (RUO)

5

Wholesale broadband access on a wholesale level

3rd

OTE

Reference Broadband Offer (RBO)

6

Wholesale terminating segments of leased lines, irrespective of the technology used to provide leased or dedicated capacity on a wholesale level

2nd

OTE

Reference Leased Lines Offer (RLLO), Reference of Partial Private Circuits Offer (RPPCO)

7

Voice call termination on individual mobile networks on a wholesale level

3rd

VODAFONE

COSMOTE

WIND

Reference Interconnection Offers (RIOs)

According to articles 55 – 64 of the ECA, universal service in Greece includes the following services :

  • Access to the public telephone network at a fixed location.
  • Provision of subscribers’ directory and subscribers’ directory enquiry services
  • Public telephones and other points of public access to telephony.
  • Special measures to end users with disabilities.

The content of universal service is further specified by Ministerial Decision no. 44035/1626/2007 (GG 16/08/2007). Accordingly, the conditions, criteria and the procedure for the designation of the universal service provider have been set by Ministerial Decision no. 28120/974/2007 (GG 824/B/25-05-2007).

Since 2005, the designated operator for the provision of all the services provided under the universal service framework is the fixed incumbent operator, OTE (see the NTPC Decision no. 367/46/2003, GG 1535/B/17-10-03). OTE is obliged to apply to these services retail prices that do not exceed the retail prices for services, which the NTPC has set to OTE as an undertaking holding SMP (Ministerial Decision no. 44365/1631/2007, GG 1618/B/17-08-2007).

According to article 64 of the ECA and Ministerial Decision 31923/1135/2007 (GG 876/B/05-06-2007) the pure cost for the deployment and provision of the universal service is borne by the largest fixed/mobile telephony network operators, internet access providers and premium rate service providers on the basis of their turnover. The general principles for the calculation of the pure cost of the universal service have already been defined by the NTPC Decision no. 556/36/2011 (GG 2676/B/09-11-2011). Nevertheless, from its designation all the cost is absorbed by OTE without the latter or NTPC having claimed for compensation. This market singularity may change, if OTE decides to exercise its lawful rights or another undertaking is designated as universal service provider.

Consumer Protection

Consumer protection in the Greek electronic communications markets is regulated not only by the general consumer protection legislation but also by a secondary sector specific regulatory framework.

Thus, on the one hand consumers of electronic communications services have the rights recognised under the general Act no. 2251/1994 on consumer protection. The application of the Act is supervised both by the Greek Consumer’s Ombudsman, which has dispute resolution powers, and the General Secretariat for the Protection of Consumers, which reports to the Minister of Development. In cases of violation of the Act, the Minister may impose fines to undertakings amounting up to 1.000.000 €.

On the other hand, consumers’ rights are established under articles 65 – 73 of the ECA and under several NTPC Decisions, primarily under the General Authorisations Regulation (GG 748/B/21-06-2006) and the Code of Conduct on the Provision of Electronic Communication Services to Consumers (GG 1505/B/30-07-2008). These legal instruments contain detailed provisions for the minimum content of consumer contracts, maximum contractual periods, customer care services, means of informing subscribers about retail pricing etc.

The NTPC has a separate department dedicated to the handling of consumer complaints, in order to have an updated view and adequately monitor the market, and spends a great deal of its resources and activities on the regulation of consumer rights in the sector. In case that electronic communications service providers do not comply with sector specific consumer protection provisions, the NTPC may impose the administrative sanctions provided under the ECA.

Number portability in Greece is regulated under article 68 and Appendix III of the ECA and the NTPC Number Portability Regulation (Decision no. 566/016/2010, GG 967/B/30-06-2010), as amended by NTPC Decisions no. 586/05/2010 (GG 2052/B/31-12-2010) and 598/010/2011 (GG 987/B/26-05-2011).

According to the regulatory framework mentioned above, fixed/mobile telephony service providers are obliged to be connected to the number portability system and database (EVDAF), supervised by the NTPC, and execute number portability requests through that system and under its technical requirements. Furthermore, subscribers have the right to switch providers without losing their personal number by filing a relevant portability request to the provider of their choice. A subscriber’s portability request may be rejected only for reasons of incorrect data input or outstanding bills.

In case that fixed/mobile telephony service providers do not comply with the obligations mentioned above, the NTPC may impose the administrative sanctions provided under the ECA.

The requirements to inform consumers about the quality of electronic communication services (fixed/mobile telephony, internet) is regulated by article 67 and Appendix V of the ECA and the NTPC Decision no. 480/017/2008 (GG 1153/B/24-06-2008), as amended and codified by the NTPC Decision no. 621/27/2011 (GG 2417/B/01-11-2011).

According to the NTPC Decisions mentioned above, providers of electronic communication services are obliged to :

  • Publish and keep up to date clear and understandable quality indicators in easily accessible and distinct places of their official websites along with the relevant explanatory texts.
  • Make these quality indicators available in hard copy free of charge upon request of their consumers .
  • Make these quality indicators available in hard copy free of charge upon request of their consumers along with the relevant terms of their subscription contracts.

According to the quality indicators and relevant data provided to the NTPC, the latter shall make comparative tables of the electronic communication services providers available to the public online at its official website.

In case that the NTPC receives consumer complaints on on non – compliance to the above, the latter may impose to electronic communication services’ providers the administrative sanctions provided under the ECA.

In addition, the NTPC has established a system for performance evaluation of broadband connection services (SAPES). By SAPES intends to provide real – time information to broadband end-users regarding the quality and speed and data on the periodic measurement of their broadband connection along with data whether their internet access provider adopts practices, such as traffic shaping. The SAPES system is freely available online at http://broadbandtest.eett.gr/?v=n.

According to articles 62 and 73 παρ. 3 of the ECA and the NTPC Decision no. 588/21/2010 (GG 2153/B/31-12-2010) electronic communication services’ providers are obliged to issue bills with a minimum level of information regarding the services provided.

The NTPC Decision provides for two types of itemised bills. The first type contains a minimum level of information regarding the services provided (national calls, international calls, roaming calls, calls to fixed number, calls to mobile numbers, sms/mms traffic, data traffic, VAS traffic) that all subscribers must receive unless they have explicitly expressed their will not to. The second type contains all the information provided by the first type and, additionally, a more detailed analysis of the traffic that the subscribers have made. The provision of the second type shall be provided only upon the subscriber’s request.

In November 2012, following a public consultation, NTPC adopted its Decision no. 664/11B/2012 (GG 2973/B/08-11-2012) on the establishment and launch of the Programs and Prices Observatory System .

According to this Decision, electronic communication services’ providers shall periodically provide NTPC with the data that they are obliged to post on their official websites in a specific electronic format and the NTPC shall make them available to any interested third party. On the basis of the data received on a constant basis the NTPC or any interested third party will establish a Programs and Prices Observatory with the capacity to provide a comparative evaluation of the programs and prices of electronic communication services free of charge to the public.

In case that electronic communication services’ providers do not comply with the obligations mentioned above, the NTPC may impose the administrative sanctions provided under the ECA.

The protection of consumers regarding premium rate services (PRS) in the fixed/mobile telephony market is regulated by article 3 παρ. 5 of the General Authorisations Regulation (GG 748/B/21-06-2006) and the NTPC Code of Conduct on Premium Rate Services (GG 1651/B/15-10-2010). The types and pricing of PRS are regulated by the National Numbering Plan (Ministerial Decision no. 26634/924/2007, GG 768/B/15-05-2007) and the NTPC Regulation for the Management and Assignment of Numbering Resources (GG 1260/B/23-07-2007),

The regulatory framework mentioned above enacts obligations both for providers of PRS and fixed/mobile telephony network operators vis a vis their subscribers. Hence, PRS providers are obliged to have customer care services and comply with certain legal provisions on the advertising of their services, the prior information of consumers, the transparency of their tariffs etc. Accordingly, network operators, which provide to PRS providers the access to their network facilities and act as originating or transit networks, are obliged to handle customer complaints and redirect them to the customer help – desk of the relevant PRS provider.

In case that PRS providers and fixed/mobile telephony network operators do not comply with the obligations mentioned above, the NTPC may impose the administrative sanctions provided under the ECA.

Antonios Broumas
E-mail info@lawandtech.eu

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