Amendment to the Law on Telecommunications

Archived file: status as of 14.06.2015

The amendment to the Law on Telecommunications (LTC) of 30 April 1997 was adopted by parliament on 24 March 2006. The new text of the law opens up the way for liberalisation of the so-called "last mile". The new law improves consumer protection, particularly in the areas of mass electronic advertising (spam) and added-value services. The new law entered into force on 1 April 2007.

Opening up the last mile

The revised Law on Telecommunications defines the modalities and forms of access to the last mile (the copper cable between the end user and the exchange) of the market-dominant telecommunications service provider. Prices for this access will be negotiated between the alternative provider and the market-dominant provider. If agreement is not reached between the parties, the regulator (ComCom) decides on a cost-based price for access.

An alternative provider can choose between two forms of access to the last mile in order to offer their own services to customers:

In each case, the alternative telecommunications service provider must establish their own connections to the exchanges of the market dominant provider.

While the new Law on Telecommunications guarantees fully unbundled access without time limitations, fast bitstream access is limited to a period of four years. After this period expires, alternative telecommunications service providers must offer their services via fully unbundled access.

Consumer protection

In order to be able to react more flexibly to abuses in the area of added-value services, the Federal Council has the task of regulating these services, e.g. by introducing ceiling prices, price notification obligations or regulations concerning registered offices or branch offices. The establishment of an arbitration body, already considered in the complete revision of the LTC in the year 1997, will now become a reality.

As a result of a change to the federal law against unfair competition, customers are better protected from unfair mass advertising (spam) sent using telecommunications. Senders of such mass advertising must now obtain the consent of customers before transmission (the “opt-in” model). Telecommunications service providers are obliged to combat unfair mass advertising.

Abolition of licences for telecommunication services

Telecommunications service providers can enter the market without first having to apply for an authorisation for telecommunications services. They will merely be obliged to notify their planned activity. The different treatment of licensees and providers who are subject to notification will therefore be eliminated. Despite the simplification of the rules on entering the market, the (legal) obligations of telecommunications service providers are not being relaxed.

Neither the universal service licence nor radio licences will disappear as a result of the system involving a general obligation to notify. The universal service licence is an indispensable instrument for guaranteeing a basic offering of low-cost, high-quality telecommunications services for all sectors of the population in all parts of the country. Radio licences permit the utilisation of the frequency spectrum. This is a scarce resource which must be exploited according to the principles of frequency economy.

The two forms of access to the last mile

Fully unbundled access to the local loop:
An alternative telecommunications service provider operates its own equipment for broadband and telephone services in the market-dominant provider’s exchanges. The copper cable between the exchange and the customer is reconnected to the alternative provider’s equipment in the exchange and the end customer uses the services of this alternative provider exclusively.

Fast bitstream access:
An alternative telecommunications service provider operates broadband services on the equipment of the market-dominant provider in the exchanges, whilst telephone services continue to be provided by the market-dominant provider. This arrangement applies for four years . Within this period the alternative telecommunications service provider must build its own infrastructure in the exchanges, in order subsequently to migrate from fast bitstream access to fully unbundled access

Specialist staff
Last modification 14.09.2015

Top of page