In December this year, Hungary was one of the first in the European Union to transpose the European Electronic Communications Code into its own legal system by amending the Electronic Communications Act (when the Electronic Communications Act was amended). In addition to the statutory rules, in order to be fully transposed, the rules at the level of the implementing regulation had to be established by the end of December this year: the NMHH complied with them by the deadline of revising and creating twenty-two NMHH decrees.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE IN THE CODE?
The framework completely changes the basic conceptual framework and logic of regulation in line with the evolution of the services used by subscribers. Whereas in the past the regulation covered the transmission of signals, which is the technical basis of telecommunications services (eg the provision of a telephone call or an Internet connection), then the purpose of use determines what rules apply to a service. Thus, there will be different conditions for subscriptions for Internet access (Internet subscription), traditional number-based personal communication (phone call), non-number-based personal communication (e.g., WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger), and simple signaling (broadcasting or machine-to-machine communication).
HOW WILL SUBSCRIPTION RIGHTS CHANGE?
The Code added a number of new elements to subscriber rights and replaced previous divergent practices across the Union with a more uniform set of rules. New regulations apply to the content of subscription contracts, and the use of a contractual summary to facilitate a quick review of the terms has become mandatory. The rules of switching providers are also changing favorably for subscribers.
Package and email portability will appear on Internet services, and caller ID must be provided for at least 1 month after the termination of the contract. Certain service penalties have been regulated at EU level (eg in case of quality or switching errors or delays) and the maximum duration of fixed-term contracts (usually 24 months). Finally, the Code should ensure the operation of tools and services that allow services to be compared.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET?
The Code introduces a number of important changes in the regulation of the telecommunications market in order to further develop networks and improve the quality and availability of services. For example, it facilitates the interconnection of telecommunications networks and the use of other track infrastructures for service providers, as well as facilitating the construction of high-capacity networks and joint investments. It promotes the overall development of mobile services by standardizing the rules for tendering and, for certain frequencies, usage. The deployment of the small cellular networks required for full-fledged 5G services will be ensured by nationally uniform deployment rules.
GOOD, BUT WHAT WILL SUBSCRIBERS SUBJECT FROM THIS?
As domestic rules, unlike in many other EU countries, have so far regulated subscriber rights in sufficient detail and favorably, the change will not be drastic at home. For example, the general maximum loyalty period in Hungary has so far been 12 months, which can only be deviated from for a maximum of 24 months in the case of device purchases or discounted basic packages. At the same time, subscribers will encounter new elements and documents during the conclusion of the contract (e.g. prior information and contract summary).
In addition, in the case of a fixed-term contract, the subscriber becomes entitled to terminate the entire package of services even if only a part of the package becomes terminable due to a breach of contract or unilateral modification by the service provider. If requested by the customer, the service provider will ensure the operation of the e-mail addresses belonging to the Internet subscription and the forwarding of e-mails for at least 6 months after the termination of the contract. Phone numbers will also become portable within 31 days of contract termination.
In the event of a change of ISP, service providers will normally have to switch providers remotely and without loss of service. Electronic correspondence and the use of electronic administration services must also be ensured in the event of restrictions on Internet services. Finally, new service comparison pages may appear, for which providers need to be provided with up-to-date data.
Máté Mester, telecommunication strategy and regulatory consultant, owner of Mspire, helped us compile the material.
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