On 12 January 2021 the President of Ukraine signed the Law of Ukraine “On Electronic Communications” (the “E-Communications Law”) which will enter into force on 1 January 2022. The E-Communications Law will replace currently effective Laws of Ukraine “On Telecommunications” and “On Radiofrequency Resource”, both adopted nearly 20 years ago.
The E-Communications Law was adopted to fulfil Ukraine’s obligations under the Association Agreement between Ukraine and EU to harmonize Ukrainian legislation with the EU’s regulation of electronic communications as provided, inter alia, in the European Electronic Communications Code. The E-Communications Law implements the EU’s general principles of regulation of electronic communications business, which will make electronic communications market of Ukraine more attractive for European investors. It is expected that the E-Communications Law will largely benefit to integration of Ukraine to the EU Single Digital Market.
Among other things, the E-Communications Law introduces the following key novels:
- Technological neutrality of radio spectrum use. Electronic communications providers will have the right in certain defined cases to use the radio frequency bands specified in a respective license without restricting the use of any radio technology which meets the minimum technical requirements.
- Possibility of license-free use of radio spectrum. Supply of electronic communications services within certain radio frequency bands and at short distances will not require obtainment of a licence for the radio spectrum use and shall only be based on the general authorisation, i.e. submitting of notification on commencement of activities in the area of electronic communications.
- Transfer of the rights under license for the radio spectrum use and joint use of radio spectrum. The users of the radio spectrum holding the license for the radio spectrum use will be entitled to fully or partially transfer or provide for lease their rights under such license to third parties or enter into agreement on joint use of radio spectrum.
- Simplifying access to infrastructure for deployment of broadband networks. Electronic communications operators who own physical infrastructure in certain cases will be obliged to satisfy requests of the other operators on provision of access to their physical infrastructure for the purpose of deployment of broadband network of such other operators. Also, information on their existing infrastructure shall be revealed by electronic communications operators via public electronic regulatory platform or by replying to information requests of the other operators.
- Introduction of new sanctions for violation of electronic communications rules. E-Communications Law introduces new sanctions or changes the existing ones, in particular, for carrying out activities in the area of electronic communications without submitting notification on commencement of services in the field of electronic communications, usage of radio spectrum without obtaining a licence (when required), failing to submit reporting and other required information to the regulatory authority, violation of requirements on provision of electronic communication services to end customers, and others.
Entry into force of the E-Communications Law will pose a remarkable step in modernization of Ukrainian electronic communications and is expected to largely promote the development of internal electronic communications market of Ukraine and further deployment of high-speed networks in Ukraine.