Network access and interconnection
What rules, requirements and procedures govern network-to-network access and interconnection?
Access and interconnection is regulated by the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law and the fundamental technical plans for numbering, switching, signalling, transmitting, charging, synchronising and interconnecting is issued by the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT).
The 2013 constitutional reform and the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law of 2014 clearly address operators’ obligation to interconnect. As the sector regulator, the IFT determines effective competition conditions and must issue the rules pursuant to which operators can compensate each other for interconnection. For all practical purposes, interconnection rates are determined by the IFT, particularly in connection with the preponderant carrier.
In the telecoms sector, a carrier deemed preponderant (see below) is subject to the following (among other things), and requires the IFT’s prior approval:
- the publication of service reference offers;
- a framework interconnection agreement;
- the sharing of infrastructure;
- an unbundling of the local loop;
- the provision of access on a non-discriminatory basis;
- resale services; and
Further, it requires:
- accounting separation;
- the provision of unbundled tariffs to end customers (with the IFT's approval);
- the provision of intermediate services to carriers, licence holders and parties authorised to operate alone in order to avoid cross-subsidisation;
- disclosure of the network topology, including its specifications, functionalities and capacities; and
- in connection with government procurement processes, an obligation to provide intermediate services to competing carriers or licence holders that have been awarded government contracts, but lack the infrastructure to provide those services which can be supplied only by the preponderant economic carrier.
Are access/interconnection prices subject to regulation?
Telecoms operators can freely set the prices for access and interconnection services that they provide, except in the case of the preponderant carrier, whose prices are subject to IFT approval.
The Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law adopted the asymmetric pricing principle, based on two main ideas:
- the preponderant carrier's charges to competing operators for any traffic ending within its network will be strictly regulated; and
- the interconnection pricing of any traffic starting on the preponderant carrier's side and ending in another operator's network will be freely negotiated between the parties (which gave rise to the resolution identified as ‘zero interconnection rate’ by the IFT, which based its decision on a specific provision in the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law).
How are access/interconnection disputes resolved?
The IFT has broad authority to resolve disputes and assess penalties associated with a carrier's non-compliance or anti-competitive conduct.
A carrier can request the IFT to resolve an interconnection dispute. Within five business days, the IFT will decide the application. If the application is accepted, the IFT will notify the other party and that party must provide its arguments and evidence within a further five business days. Following this, the IFT will rule on the admission of the evidence. The parties will then have two business days for closing arguments, and the IFT will issue a resolution within 30 business days. The carriers may enter into a settlement agreement at any time before a resolution is entered.
Have any regulations or initiatives been introduced or proposed with respect to next-generation access?
No new regulations have been introduced with respect to next-generation access. However, there appears to be a public consultation regarding long-term incremental costs within fixed line networks.
What rules and procedures govern telecoms operators’ access to land (both public and private) to install, maintain and repair infrastructure?
No specific or special rules and procedures govern telecoms operators’ access to land in order to install, maintain and repair infrastructure. The regulatory implications of such actions depend on whether:
- the land is private, in which case state civil laws apply (provided that other federal or state statutes do not come into play, such as in those cases where national monuments must be protected); and
- the land is public land (owned by or subject to the jurisdiction of federal, state or municipal authorities), in which case federal laws, state laws and municipal ordinances, or a combination thereof, apply.
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?
The Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law provides for specific provisions aimed at fostering agreements between or among carriers for collocation and the sharing of infrastructure. Collocation and sharing agreements are fundamentally creatures of contract, provided that if the operators cannot agree the applicable terms and conditions and the envisioned collocation or sharing of infrastructure is essential for the provision of a service and there are no substitutes, or access is limited by law, the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) may resolve the conditions for collocation or sharing and the corresponding tariff.
The IFT may review infrastructure sharing agreements and issue measures intended to foster non-discriminatory access and avoid anti-competitive effects.
Collocation and infrastructure sharing must be filed in the Public Telecommunications Registry.
Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.