Iceland's Parliament recently passed new telecommunications legislation to promote competition in the sector. The act follows the liberalization of telecommunications in 1997, when the monopoly of the incumbent operator Landssími Íslands hf was abolished.
The act introduces fundamental changes to the rules governing the sector. A new chapter on open network provision includes new provision regarding access to the local loop and domestic roaming. The act also provides for ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) data transfer, as part of the universal service obligation.
When a licensed operator cannot establish access to individual subscribers who are already connected to the telecommunications network of another operator because of the nature or size of the investment in a local loop, the Post and Telecommunications Administration (PTA) may decide that the licensee be given direct access to the subscribers. Disputes arising from this provision will be dealt with in accordance with the chapter on open network provision and interconnection procedures.
When it is not possible to install and operate a mobile telephone base station because of the nature and size of the investment required or because the conditions for installation and operation are particularly difficult, mobile operators providing public mobile telephone services will have access to the networks of other mobile telephone operators. Licensed operators must agree between themselves on the terms of access. When an agreement cannot be reached, the PTA will decide whether a roaming agreement is to be made, including its terms, between the entity that controls the mobile telephone network and other operators. It is stipulated that the other operators must already operate a public mobile telephone network where it is practicable in the PTA's judgement.
Roaming agreements will be subject to interconnection procedures as far as is practicable, with the exception that rates should be based on the public tariff of the network operator except for cost items that do not need to be provided by that operator.
The act also harmonizes legislation with the latest directives applicable within the European Economic Area. The licensing regime for telecommunications is brought into line with EU directives, notably 97/13/EC. Authorizations will be in the form of either general class licences or individual licences. An individual licence is only required in some special cases. Number portability and carrier pre-selection are covered in the chapter on numbering. The PTA will set a date on which service provider and geographical portability are to be introduced. Licensed operators must provide their subscribers with carrier selection and carrier pre-selection with override. Again the PTA is left to decide the date for the introduction of these facilities.
Harmonization of telephone tariffs has not taken place in Iceland. According to the new law this must be completed before April 1 2000. Access to the local loop is to be made available six months after harmonization is completed.
The law governing the PTA has been amended and the PTA now has the power to enforce the legislation and promote competition. The law also introduces cooperation between the Competition Authority and the PTA.
The PTA has issued four new digital cellular system (DCS) 1800 licences. Currently, the Icelandic mobile telephone market has two operators for 900 and 1800 systems and a decision will be made shortly on how to allocate the universal mobile telephone service licences.
For further information on this topic please contact Gunnar Sturluson at LOGOS by telephone (+354 568 09 00) or by fax (+354 568 09 09) or by e-mail ([email protected]).
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