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Network access and interconnection

Regulation

What rules, requirements and procedures govern network-to-network access and interconnection?

The following principles govern interconnection:

  • Agreement between the parties – providers are entitled to negotiate the price, terms and conditions of interconnection. Agreements should not be discriminatory or establish technical conditions that prevent, delay or hinder interconnection and should be registered with the National Communications Agency;
  • Mandatory – all operators must be directly or indirectly interconnected;
  • Non-discrimination – operators have the right to obtain the same technical or economic conditions as those offered to other operators that require similar facilities, regardless of the service that they provide;
  • Reciprocal compensation – operators have the right to establish reciprocal compensation for the origin, transportation and termination of communications;
  • Efficiency – no operator may impose interconnection terms and conditions which result in the inefficient use of networks and equipment of interconnected providers; and
  • Open architecture.

Although parties are free to negotiate interconnection agreements, they are subject to material restrictions imposed by the regulatory framework and the National Communications Agency. The Ministry of Modernisation and the secretary of information and communications technologies are discussing new interconnection rules.

Pricing

Are access/interconnection prices subject to regulation?

Prices may be freely negotiated between the parties, but should be cost oriented. Nonetheless, the National Communications Agency establishes referential prices for those components that it considers to be essential facilities. The agency can also establish interconnection prices in the case of a lack of agreement between operators, for which the benchmarking of regional prices may be considered.

Disputes

How are access/interconnection disputes resolved?

All interconnection-related disputes should be submitted to the National Communications Agency, which has primary administrative jurisdiction. National Communications Agency decisions can be appealed with the Ministry of Modernisation and challenged before the judicial courts.

Next-generation access

Have any regulations or initiatives been introduced or proposed with respect to next-generation access?

No. However, the new interconnection regulation is expected to address next-generation access.

Infrastructure access

Land access

What rules and procedures govern telecoms operators’ access to land (both public and private) to install, maintain and repair infrastructure?

Telecoms legislation grants operators the legal right to access public and private land to deploy and maintain their infrastructure. In practice, these issues are privately managed by operators and landowners. Regarding public land, the national government recently adopted measures to facilitate the access to and use of public buildings in order to install antennas and wireless network infrastructure.

Infrastructure sharing

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?

Infrastructure sharing agreements are common among operators and encouraged by the regulatory authorities.

Pricing and consumer protection

Retail pricing

What rules govern retail pricing for telecoms services?

Retail prices are freely fixed by telecoms operators.

Consumer contracts

What rules govern consumer service contracts?

Consumer service contracts are generally governed by Sections 1092 to 1122 of the National Civil and Commercial Code and Law 24,240 (the Consumer Law). In addition, a specific consumer regulation governs fixed and mobile telephones.

The general standards of consumer protection prohibit contract clauses that:

  • waiver or restrict consumer rights;
  • extend the rights of the other party; and
  • impose the reversal of the burden of proof to the detriment of the consumer.

Disclosure requirements

Are telecoms service providers bound by any consumer disclosure requirements?

Yes. Section 1,100 of the National Civil and Commercial Code and Section 4 of the Consumer Law establish that the supplier must provide clear and detailed information concerning:

  • the essential characteristics of the supplied goods and services;
  • their commercialisation conditions; and
  • any other circumstance relevant to the contract.

Under Section 4 of the Consumer Law, such information must be provided in writing, unless otherwise expressly accepted by the consumer. Further, Section 4 of Decree-Law 1798/1994 establishes that suppliers of goods or services must immediately inform the competent authorities and consumers of any dangers discovered after said goods or services have been introduced to the relevant market.

In particular, as regards public domiciliary services, Section 25 of the Consumer Law states that companies providing such services must provide information in writing regarding the conditions of the supply and the rights and obligations of both contracting parties. This information must also be made available to public service offices. Similarly, companies must include the following statement in all bills for public attention: "You have the right to claim for compensation if we invoice undue sums or concepts or improperly claim the payment of bills already paid, Law No. 24,240 ".

Section 28 of the Consumer Law sets out that bills must also state whether there are owed periods or other debts, including details of dates, concepts and interests, if applicable. Otherwise, the bill must include the following wording: "There are no outstanding debts". Finally, Section 30 of the Consumer Law foresees that users of public domiciliary services should be adequately informed about the safety conditions of the systems and appliances delivered for the provision of services.

Under Resolutions 45/1997 and 242/2006, telecoms service providers must supply the following details to consumers:

  • data on which billing is based;
  • the amount of local and international calls made and the resulting costs; and
  • any increases of tariffs at least 60 days before their implementation.

Joint Resolutions 29/2014 and 81/2014 of the Secretariat of Trade, the Secretariat of Communication and the Secretariat of Trade Resolution 176/2017 state that mobile communications service providers must provide information on a regular basis via invoices, their websites, consumer emails and free telephone lines regarding:

  • the price of:
    • hire plans;
    • local, national and international long-distance calls per second;
    • text and multimedia messages;
    • internet access by the hour, day, week, month, kilobyte or megabyte, as appropriate; and
    • all of these services in and out of tariff plans;
  • bonuses and promotions in a clear, truthful manner, without concealment or inaccuracies that may lead to error or confusion regarding the availability and characteristics of the offered service; and
  • details of outgoing calls, text and multimedia messages, internet use and other charges.

Competition

Issues and concerns

Are there any particular competition issues or concerns in the domestic telecoms market?

There are no relevant competition issues in the domestic telecoms market at present other than the Telecom Argentina-Cablevision merger, which is under review by the antitrust and telecoms authorities.

The Ministry of Modernisation is expected to revise the spectrum cap for mobile services.

Sector-specific regulation

Do any sector-specific competition regulatory/legal provisions apply (eg, special conditions for dominant telecoms market players)?

Dominant market operators are subject to specific obligations concerning interconnection, including:

  • maintaining an updated public interconnection offer; and
  • guaranteeing to unbundle the local access network.

Separation

Are there any requirements for structural, functional or accounting separation of operators’ activities?

Telecoms and mobile operators are subject to accounting separation for cable television services. Further, dominant operators must have separate accounting for interconnection-related activities.

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