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Pricing and consumer protection
What rules govern retail pricing for telecoms services?
As a general principle, under Article 13 of the Electronic Communications Act operators are free to determine their price tariffs subject to the general principles laid out in:
- Article 14 of the act;
- the provisions of the relevant legislation; and
- the regulations of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA).
By contrast, the ICTA is entitled to:
- establish the methods for approval, monitoring and inspection of the tariffs for operators with significant market power; and
- to set the lower and upper limits for their tariffs.
Operators with significant market power are also subject to certain obligations and requirements with regard to their tariffs under the Tariffs Regulation, which is based on the Electronic Communications Act. Accordingly, operators with significant market power must set their tariffs on a cost basis and notify the ICTA of their tariffs before they are implemented. The ICTA is entitled to grant the approval of tariffs on the basis of both costs and the lower and upper limits that it has set.
What rules govern consumer service contracts?
Consumer contracts are governed by the Regulation on Consumer Rights in Electronic Communication Sector (the Consumer Rights Regulation), adopted on the basis of the Electronic Communications Act. The Consumer Rights Regulation regulates:
- consumers’ rights regarding electronic communication services;
- the obligations of the operators; and
- the execution of:
- subscription agreements;
- special offers; and
- value-added electronic communication services.
The Consumer Rights Regulation provides that operators must provide consumers with detailed information concerning, among other things:
- the scope of the services provided;
- the terms and conditions for such services;
- the tariffs and packages; and
- the consumer complaint mechanisms.
In this respect, subscription agreements for electronic communication services can be executed through wet signature or on online platforms using secure electronic signatures; the contractual terms that are significantly disadvantageous for subscribers will be deemed to be unwritten.
Are telecoms service providers bound by any consumer disclosure requirements?
Under the Consumer Rights Regulation, operators must provide consumers with detailed information regarding the services provided, including:
- the name, trade name and address of the operator;
- a description and scope of:
- the services;
- the general terms and conditions;
- the tariffs and package information; and
- any types of tax included within such tariffs;
- the conditions relating to:
- the undertakings;
- information regarding repair; and
- maintenance services; and
- a description of consumer dispute resolution methods.
Issues and concerns
Are there any particular competition issues or concerns in the domestic telecoms market?
Despite the privatisation of Türk Telekom and the liberalisation of the telecoms market, local operators have voiced serious concern regarding the continuing significant market power of Türk Telekom. The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) has imposed certain obligations on Türk Telekom within the scope of its powers regarding operators with significant market power. However, local market participants believe that the competitive conditions in the market are limited due to:
- Türk Telekom’s controlling rights over the majority of the infrastructure in Turkey;
- the high level of costs arising from the installation of new infrastructures; and
- administrative difficulties.
Do any sector-specific competition regulatory/legal provisions apply (eg, special conditions for dominant telecoms market players)?
Operators with significant market power are subject to certain obligations and requirements under the Electronic Communications Act and secondary regulations, including:
- the Right-of-Way Regulation;
- the Tariffs Regulation; and
- the Market Analysis Regulation.
The ICTA has imposed certain obligations, particularly on operators with significant market power, regarding among others:
- accounting separation;
- tariffs and access; and
The main principles and procedures with respect to the maintenance of effective competition in the electronic communication sector are set forth in the Market Analysis Regulation. Thus, under the regulation the ICTA is entitled to impose obligations and restrictions on operators with significant market power regarding:
- the granting of access and interconnection;
- the publication of reference access and interconnection proposals;
- account separation;
- tariff control;
- cost accounting;
- the provision of minimum line group service;
- co-location; and
- facility sharing.
Are there any requirements for structural, functional or accounting separation of operators’ activities?
Under the Electronic Communications Act and the relevant secondary regulations, operators are not subject to any structural or functional separation obligations. In addition, although the applicable legislation does not impose a general accounting separation, Article 21 of the Electronic Communication Act states that operators with significant market power may be obligated to undertake accounting separation and the ICTA has the power to impose such an obligation.
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