Finland's newly enacted Radio Act came into force on January 1 2002. The new act replaces previous legislation of the same name dating from 1988, when Finland began to liberlize its telecommunications laws. Among other things the new act is designed to promote an efficient telecommunications market. Overall, the new act differs very little from the old legislation, although some important changes have been made.

Pursuant to the new act Finland's Council of State confirmed the spectrum plan for licensed telecommunications activities, such as the provision of public mobile network infrastructure.

Permits granted for mobile network base stations are to be granted for periods of 20 years. Spectrum reservations will be granted for one-year periods. Permits and reservations are to be granted provided that:

  • the use of the spectrum is in accordance with the Finnish Communications Authority's allocation plan;

  • sufficient spectrum is available; and

  • the authority has no grounds to suspect that the applicant will violate the applicable laws and regulations.

Permit reservations for public mobile network infrastructure provision can only be made if the necessary operating permits have been obtained. If supply of spectrum reservation exceeds demand, the authority will grant the spectrum to those applicants whose operations best promote the new act's purpose. This provision differs from the recent practice regarding, for instance, wireless local loop spectrum, where spectrum was granted on a first come, first served, basis. Under the new act permits may be assigned among companies belonging to the same group. However, the assignment of permits outside a group of companies will continue to require the authority's consent unless the terms and conditions of the permit specify otherwise. In the event of the permit holder's bankruptcy, the permit will transfer to the bankruptcy estate provided that it continues the permit holder's business.

As in the Telecommunications Privacy and Data Security Act 1999, the new Radio Act stipulates that mobile phone communication is deemed to be confidential unless it is intended to be received by the public. As the wording of the new act is similar to the 1999 Telecommunications Privacy and Data Security Act, it follows that when determining whether a communication has been intended for public reception the sender's intention is crucial. The new act also provides that anybody that receives or otherwise obtains information about a confidential radio transmission that was not intended for them may not unlawfully disclose or exploit information that is a result of the contents or the existence of such transmission.

For further information on this topic please contact Craig Thompson at Roschier Holmberg, Attorneys Ltd by telephone (+358 20 506 6000) or by fax (+358 20 506 6100) or by email ([email protected]).