On June 9 2000 the Finnish government submitted a bill to Parliament to amend the 1997 Telecommunications Market Act after a long, public hearing process that started in 1999. The bill proposes the following:
- the imposition of national roaming obligations on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network operators;
- lease obligations on fixed-network operators with respect to excess capacity in their local loops; and
- co-location obligations on fixed-network operators for small equipment.
The bill is intended to implement EU norms and arguably represents a side step in the government's deregulation policy to date. The government's aims are to promote the rapid expansion of third-generation mobile networks and high-speed internet connections in Finnish households.
The bill proposes to grant third-generation mobile-network operators national roaming rights on GSM 900 and GSM 1800 networks for eight-year periods once their own third-generation networks cover at least 20% of the population in their operating-licence area.
According to the bill, national roaming should be arranged on commercial terms just as interconnection and network access in Finland in general is arranged. The bill provides that if operators are unable to agree on the commercial terms of national roaming within a six-month period, Finland's Telecommunications Administration Center (TAC) may be requested to specify the terms. The TAC may also specify the cost to be borne by the requesting third-generation operator for certain network investments that may be required of the GSM operator. An operator requesting national roaming can request such rights from only one company and only once.
The proposed national roaming rights do not apply to virtual-mobile operators. GSM operators may shorten the duration of the national roaming rights to two years by expanding their own third-generation network to cover at least 80% of the country. It is expected that the proposed national roaming will enable national third-generation licence holders that do not have a national GSM network to provide national services even when their third-generation networks are incomplete.
The bill also proposes to require network operators to lease to their competitors the excess capacity in their local loops. This obligation complements the far-reaching, unbundled local-loop lease obligations of fixed-network operators in Finland. According to the bill, leasing charges for parallel access must be non-discriminatory and cost-oriented and may not exceed 50% of the lease charge for the whole local-loop line.
While the proposal aims at providing access for xDSL to the upper frequencies in the local loops, it also applies to other technologies capable of exploiting local loops without interfering with current use. The bill proposes that fixed-network operators be required to lease excess space on non-discriminatory terms for small, technical equipment such as xDSL equipment and internet modem banks. The provision would not extend co-location obligations to larger telecommunications equipment such as switches.
For further information on this topic please contact Craig Thompson at Roschier Holmberg, Attorneys Ltd by telephone (+358 8 551 3300) or by fax (+358 8 551 3320) or by e-mail ([email protected]).
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