The Council of Ministers has approved the issuing to the Spanish Parliament of the draft bill on telecommunications, with which the regulations are updated in order to adapt them to the great advances that the telecommunications sector has achieved and to favour future development of digital economy, that the Government considers to be one of the most potential economic pillars for growth in Spain.

The new act seeks to create the appropriate framework in order to make easier the investments that are necessary for the development of the digital economy. This aims to take down barriers and strengthen competitiveness and the protection of the user. Among the changes, the roll-out of new networks will be simplified, favouring the shared use of infrastructures amongst companies and eliminating obstacles for the authorization of licenses.

Also, the new act ensures the unity of the market and marks the bases for investment in ultrafast fixed and mobile networks.

The new act on telecommunications is integrated into the Spanish national plan of reforms (Plan Nacional de Reformas) which the Government is carrying out as an essential part of economic policy. This is defined within the drive for digital economy that the Executive implemented and whose core idea is the Digital Agenda for Spain.

Main modifications:

The draft law on telecommunications introduces structural reforms in the legal regime of telecommunications, with two main objectives.

  • To facilitate the roll out of new generation networks, both fixed and mobile, by widening their coverage.
  • To improve the offer of innovative services to citizens, of a better quality and at more affordable prices, driving more effective competition conditions.

The achievement of these two objectives is carried out through the new regulation, which is based on four main principles:

  1. Driving competition and improving services for users. Competition is an essential instrument for guaranteeing better services to end users, more affordable prices and the promotion of efforts in investment and innovation, characteristic of the telecommunications sectors. To this end:
    • Analysis of the different markets will be regularly carried out, which will allow for the establishing in each of said markets of specific obligations and conditions of competition that are more appropriate for the actual situation in the market.
    • The rights of telecommunications users will be improved with regards to personal data protection and privacy. The sanctioning regime is specified and the fulfilment of obligations of operators is made clearer, maintaining users’ rights.
    • Public Administrators tasks are simplified with regards to the use of networks and the providing of telecommunications services.
    • An interministerial commission is created for radiofrequencies and health in order to strengthen trust in environmental safety.
    • Inspecting and sanctioning authorities are strengthened for the Secretary of the State of Telecommunications and the Information Society.
  2. Recuperation of unity of the market, so that telecommunications operators may develop their activity with the same rules throughout the whole of Spain. In doing this, the act to guarantee unity of the market from the sector’s legislation is complemented and reinforced. The main measures include:
    • New mechanisms of coordination and collaboration are designed for the State with Autonomous Communities and Local Entities in order to ease the roll-out of telecommunications networks.
    • Common technical requirements are established for the roll-out of networks, as well as the same maximum limits for emission of and exposure to electromagnetic fields for the whole of Spain.
  3. Administrative simplification: regulatory barriers that the different Public Administrations impose on the roll-out of networks and the providing of telecommunications services are eliminated.
    • State administrative procedures for accessing the use of the radioelectric spectrum are simplified.
    • Urban and environmental licenses are eliminated for the roll-out of telecommunications networks in private domains. The licenses will be substituted by liability statements.
    • Se suprimen las licencias urbanísticas y medioambientales para el despliegue de redes de telecomunicaciones en dominio privado. Las licencias serán sustituidas por declaraciones responsables.
  4. To facilitate the roll-out of networks: costs will be reduced so that operators can broaden the coverage of networks and have a wider margin to transfer said reduction to the end prices.
    • The roll-out of fixed telecommunication networks in building will be made easier and the right of any user to access ultra-fast networks will be guaranteed. This means that, if a resident wishes to contract ultra-fast network services, the building’s community of neighbours must allow the necessary roll-out to provide such a service.
    • In order to roll-out new communications networks, the operators may reuse cable channels, wires, public ownership sites or sites of other networks of private operators.

Other modifications

The new act reinforces the control of radioelectric public domains and modifies other legal texts such as the act on information society services and e-commerce (Ley de Servicios de la Sociedad de la Información y de Comercio Electrónico), from July 11th, 2002, introducing more precise information on cookies. In this paragraph, the obligation and people in charge of the correct management of this sector is clarified, as for example, the advertising networks or agencies that have not adopted measures to demand from the editor of the service provider the compliance with obligations of information and the obtaining of user consent.

The text also changes the law on electronic signatures, from December 19th 2003, so that the recognized certificates used in electronic ID cards will last for five years, rather than 2 years, as it was previously.

Source: Lexdiario (2013). Principales aspectos del proyecto de Ley general de Telecomunicaciones. Publication date: 16/09/2013 Available at: Access date: 20/09/2013

Jose María Dutilh

Jose María Dutilh

Socio Director de la Firma de Abogados LeQuid, especializada en Derecho de los Negocios y de las Empresas Sociales, estoy plenamente convencido de que el desarrollo empresarial rentable y eficiente no sólo es compatible sino que necesita la ética empresarial. En la actualidad, desde LeQuid colaboro con empresarios que necesitan una segunda oportunidad a través de estos procesos; Apoyo legal en el día a día, Re emprendimiento socialmente responsable, Fusiones y Adquisiciones, Reestructuración y Refinanciación de empresas o Concurso de acreedores entre otros.

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