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Pricing and consumer protection
What rules govern retail pricing for telecoms services?
Under Article 28 of Federal Law 126-FZ (the Communications Law), telecoms operators are free to set their own retail tariffs for the provision of services. However, the rates of publicly available telecoms and postal services by natural monopolies are controlled by the state. Publicly available services include:
- local and intercity fixed-line calls;
- the terrestrial transmission of publicly available (mandatory) television channels; and
- publicly available telecoms communications to receive cable and terrestrial broadcasting signals.
State regulation of such tariffs is carried out by the Federal Anti-monopoly Service in accordance with the rules set by Government Decree 637, dated October 24 2005.
In August 2018 the Federal Anti-monopoly Service declared a victory over the practices of major mobile operators (ie, MTS, Vimpelcom (Beeline) and MegaFon) to charge intercity roaming fees within the country. The practices were considered non-compliant with Russian competition laws, and all three major operators agreed to cease domestic roaming charges in August-September 2018.
What rules govern consumer service contracts?
Regulatory provisions designed for the protection of consumers are set out in Law 2300-1 on the Protection of Consumer Rights, dated February 7 1992.
Specific requirements for telecoms contracts are set out in the relevant rules adopted for different types of telecoms service (eg, the Rules for Provisions of Data Transfer Services adopted by Government Decree 32 on January 23 2006). These rules require:
- the provision of certain information to subscribers at the execution of a contract and during the provision of services;
- compliance with certain technical requirements;
- an assurance of confidentiality and security; and
- the proper identification of subscribers.
Article 44 of the Communications Law also provides for certain requirements applicable to consumer contracts entered into regarding wireless telecoms services. For example, operators of wireless services cannot enter into consumer contracts in movable retail facilities.
Pursuant to Article 44 of the Communications Law, wireless services operators must maintain separate consumer accounts for their main services and additional content services to avoid debiting payments for additional services from the principal account opened for wireless services.
Article 44 also contains provisions on portable numbers and limits the fee for keeping the number to Rb100 (approximately $1.50).
Are telecoms service providers bound by any consumer disclosure requirements?
The requirements for the disclosure of certain information to consumers are specified in the relevant rules for the provision of different types of telecoms service adopted by government decrees. Under the Rules for the Provision of Data Transfer Services adopted by Government Decree 32 on January 23 2006, when executing a telecom services contract with a subscriber, operators must provide:
- their full name;
- details of licences, a services card, the payment terms, support contracts and locations where subscribers can familiarise themselves with all of the terms of the provided services;
- a list of the terms of the provided services; and
- any additional information in connection with the provision of services, as requested by the subscriber, in Russian and other languages (if necessary).
Operators must also post information online regarding the terms for the correction of defects that preclude subscribers from using their services and notify them of any changes in rates no less than 10 days before they come into effect.
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