Network access and interconnection
What rules, requirements and procedures govern network-to-network access and interconnection?
The principal rules of telecoms network interconnections are set out in Articles 18 to 20 of the Federal Law 126-FZ (the Communications Law). Further, two decrees adopted by the government provide the specific technical requirements for:
- general network interconnections; and
- the interconnection of broadcasting networks, respectively.
Apart from these mandatory rules, all terms of interconnection and network-to-network access are defined and agreed on by the contracting operators. Operators of publicly available telecoms networks must provide interconnection services to other operators.
Operators considered to have a substantial position in publicly available networks (where a ‘substantial position’ is defined as holding more than 25% of the capacity in the relevant geographic numbering area, individually or as part of a group of affiliates) must offer equal and non-discriminating terms for all connecting operators on the basis of standard published contracts. Operators that hold a substantial position cannot refuse interconnection, except where such connection would contradict their licence terms or applicable regulation.
Are access/interconnection prices subject to regulation?
Network connection costs are government regulated for operators that hold a substantial position in publicly available networks. For such operators, the Federal Agency for Communications sets the minimum and maximum costs of interconnection services per connection point.
How are access/interconnection disputes resolved?
Disputes on interconnection-related issues are resolved through standard judicial procedures in arbitrazh (ie, commercial) courts.
Have any regulations or initiatives been introduced or proposed with respect to next-generation access?
The Digital Economy national programme adopted by Government Order 1632-p of July 28 2017 sets the provision of stable 5G mobile services in all major cities of Russia by 2024 as one of its major goals.
In the context of the recent move towards technological neutrality, the State Commission for Radio Frequencies has made some decisions in the past four years which allow the use of certain bandwidths previously reserved for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System standards to promote the development of long-term evolution services without the need for operators to modify previously issued permits.
What rules and procedures govern telecoms operators’ access to land (both public and private) to install, maintain and repair infrastructure?
The Land Code sets a specific category of land that can be used for communications, radio, television and informatics services. Federal and municipal land can be leased for the construction and exploitation of communications network infrastructure. The terms for granting such rights are set in the Land Code and city planning regulations. The Land Code also contains rules on the establishment and recordation of easements on lands where telecoms infrastructure is located and way-leave rights for the purposes of exploitation and repair.
Are infrastructure sharing agreements among operators popular and/or encouraged by the regulatory authorities? Which infrastructure sharing structures/agreements are commonly used? Do any regulations apply?
Until 2013, infrastructure sharing in Russia was limited to passive infrastructure sharing due to certain technical requirements set in the applicable regulation. Those limitations were lifted in 2013 and Russian telecoms operators have since been encouraged to share active and passive infrastructure. Amendments setting the terms of technical interconnection and the joint use of certain elements of infrastructure were introduced via a number of Ministry for Connection and Mass Communications orders between 2014 and 2016. The existing regulation allows for the joint ownership of frequencies and the joint certification of radio electronic equipment and high-frequency devices. However, in practice, major wireless operators are not usually eager to share infrastructure due to the fact that:
- their existing networks cover the same geographic territories; and
- operators are concerned about the risks of losing subscribers to competitors.
The only area that saw and will most likely see an increase in infrastructure sharing and joint effort is the development of next-generation, long-term evolution and 5G services. Due to the high forecasted costs required to set up these networks, most of which are used by the military at present, major operators are willing to join forces.
In addition to the above, under the Rules of Non-Discriminatory Access to Infrastructure adopted by Government Decree 1284, dated November 29 2014, natural monopolies in the telecoms industries must provide access to their infrastructure facilities by law.
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