Are communications networks or services regulated? If so what activities are covered and what licences or authorisations are required?


United States Small Flag United States

Yes, communications networks and services are regulated. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regulates “telecommunications services,” which includes radio and television (broadcast and cable), and telephone services (landline and wireless). Although the internet has not traditionally been regulated by the FCC, in 2015, the FCC implemented regulations to govern certain aspects of internet services, including prohibitions on providers of broadband internet services from limiting or controlling the access to internet services (so-called “net neutrality” rules). In 2017, the FCC has announced its intention to roll back such regulation to pre-2015 standards, under which the provision of broadband internet services was not considered a telecommunications service.

Licenses are required to operate radio and television (broadcast and cable) services, as well as telephone (landline and wireless) services. Any use of the radio spectrum that might cause interference with broadcast media requires a license from the FCC. The FCC regulates the electromagnetic spectrum (which is considered the property of the government) and allocates by license the use of any frequency.

Malta Small Flag Malta

Communications networks and services are regulated under the Electronic Communications (Regulation) Act, Chapter 399 of the Laws of Malta, (the ‘ECRA’) and in particular the Electronic Communications Networks and Services (General) Regulations, Chapter 399.28 of the Laws of Malta (the ‘ECNSR’). A general authorisation is required for the provision of electronic communications networks and services mentioned below:

  • public communications networks;
  • publicly available telephone services;
  • television and radio distribution services;
  • other publicly available electronic communications services;
  • non-public electronic communications services;
  • publicly available telephone directories and directory enquiry services; and
  • private electronic communications networks and/or services.

Norway Small Flag Norway

Electronic communication networks and services are governed by Act no. 35 of 23 May 2003 on certain aspects of Electronic Commerce and other Information Society Services (the E-commerce Act), the Regulation on Electronic Communication Networks and Electronic Communication Services of 16 February 2004 no. 401 (the Ecom Regulation) and Act no. 83 of 4 July 2003 on Electronic Communications (the Electronic Communications Act).

The Electronic Communications Act governs all activities related to electronic communications and associated equipment, irrespective of its underlying technology. Such activities may include the provision of mobile phone services, internet, satellite communications or radio and TV (including cable).

The Norwegian market for electronic networks and communication services is open for all, without any requirement of licences or authorisations. However, the Ecom Regulation Section 1-2 requires operators of electronic communication networks, public telephone services and leased capacity providers to register with the Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom), prior to commencing their activities.

Turkey Small Flag Turkey

The provision of telecommunication services is regulated in Turkey and is subject to authorization. The activities covered are provision of electronic communication services and the establishment and operation of electronic communication networks and infrastructure.

Pursuant to Electronic Communications Law w. no. 5809 and the Regulation on Authorisation in the Electronic Communications Sector, entities must obtain authorisation prior to commencing the provision of telecommunication services. There are two types of authorisations:

  • Authorisation by notification to the Authority; and
  • Authorisation by obtaining a licence for those services which require spectrum allocation.

For services which spectrum allocation is not required, entities are entitled to automatic authorisation after notifying the Authority as to the commencement of the electronic communication services.

China Small Flag China

In China, the communications networks and services are highly regulated. According to the Telecommunication Regulation, the state divides all telecommunications services into two categories, i.e. Basic Telecommunications Services (BTS) and Value-Added Telecommunications Services (VATS). BTS essentially refers to the provision of infrastructure facilities and basic voice and data transmissions, both domestically and internationally. VATS refers to the provision of specialised services via the basic infrastructure facilities. China adopts a strict licensing system for the telecoms industry. Telecoms operators are required to obtain a licence to engage in either BTS or VATS. VATS license further includes the licenses for Internet Content Provider (ICP), Internet Service Provider (ISP), Call Centre, Internet Data Centre (IDC) and etc.

Regarding the communications networks, the construction of public telecommunications networks and dedicated telecommunications networks are planned and regulated by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

In Mexico, the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law (Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión) of July 14, 2014, does not regulate the provision of telecommunications or IT services. The rules to provide such services arise from the provisions of such law related to the (i) the use, operation and exploitation of the radio spectrum, (ii) telecommunications networks, and (iii) orbital resources and satellite communications.

Due to the aforementioned, the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law regulates a series of licenses required to establish a telecommunications network in order to be able to provide any type of telecommunications or broadcasting service. It is important to mention that under the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law, telecommunications and broadcasting services are considered as public services of general interest.

The Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law regulates a new type of concession, named the Sole Concession (“Concesión Única”). The Sole Concession is granted to provide all kind of convergent services on telecommunications and broadcasting. For its purposes, the Sole Concession is classified in: (i) commercial use; (ii) public use; (iii) private use; (iv) social use; (v) communal social use; and (vi) indigenous social use.

In addition to the Sole Concession, these are the other type of concessions provided in the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law:

Concession of radio spectrum, which is granted to use, develop and exploit frequency bands from the radio spectrum. For its purposes, the concession of radio spectrum is classified in the same categories as the Sole Concession.

Concession of orbital resources, which is granted to use and exploit orbital resources. For its purposes, this Concession is also classified in the same categories as the previous mentioned concessions.

In addition, there is another type of license called Authorization (“Autorización”) which allows the performance of any of the following activities: (i) to operate and exploit the resale of telecommunications services; (ii) to install, operate and exploit transmitting satellite earth stations; (iii) to install telecommunications equipment and transmission means, that cross the borders of Mexico; (iv) to exploit the rights to transmit and to receive signals and frequency bands associated to satellite constellations with coverage within Mexico, and which are capable of providing services in Mexico; and (v) to temporarily use frequency bands for diplomatic visits.

Of the aforementioned types of Authorization license, the one which is used more is the Authorization to resell telecommunications services (with this authorization licensees shall not own a public telecommunications network), this “reseller” Authorization allows: (i) to access wholesale services offered by concessionaires; (ii) the resale of services and capacity previously hired to a concessionaire of a public telecommunications network (i.e. Mobile Virtual Network Operators); and (iiii) having own numbering resources.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

Yes, communications networks and services are regulated. However, most providers of communications networks and services do not require a licence or specific authorisation to operate; rather, they have 'general authorisation', meaning that they can operate provided they comply with a set of general rules which are largely set out in the General Conditions of Entitlement (which are established under section 45 of the Communications Act 2003).

The exceptions to the principle of general authorisation include:

  • networks or services using radio spectrum (except where exempted by the government);
  • mobile operators wanting, for wireless telegraphy, to (i) establish and use base stations, or (ii) install or use apparatus;
  • satellite operators;
  • multiplex operators; and
  • certain premium rate services regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority.

The communications services and networks which are in scope for the purposes of being regulated are:

  • 'electronic communication networks' – i.e. the system (and its associated apparatus, equipment, software and stored data) which is used to transmit signals; and
  • 'electronic communication services' – i.e. the conveying of signals over the electronic communication network.

Romania Small Flag Romania

Yes. The main legal instrument governing communication networks and services is the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 111/2011 on electronic communications (“GEO 111/2011”), which transposes the main EU provisions in the field of electronic communications. This legal instrument covers all activities in the field of communications networks and services. The GEO 111/2011 establishes the general framework for regulation of electronic communications networks and services, the authorization of such activities and promotes competition on the market. In addition, there is special legislation encompassing laws and emergency ordinances on certain topics as well as secondary legislation (mainly government decisions and enactments of the telecom body).

The provision of electronic communications networks and services is subject to (i) general authorization and (ii) licenses for the use of limited resources for the provisions of electronic communications networks and services, such as radio frequencies, numbering resources and other associated technical resources. These licenses are subject to certain technical parameters and are granted for a limited period of time. The general authorizations as well as the licensees are issued by the National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications ("ANCOM") in accordance with its decision no. 987/2012 on the general authorization regime for the provision of electronic communications networks and services.

Italy Small Flag Italy

Yes, they are regulated. The most important piece of legislation for what concerns communications networks and services is the Electronic Communications Code (Legislative Decree n. 259 of 1 August 2003), which implements the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications.
Communications networks and services are described as follows by the Electronic Communications Code:

(i) electronic communication networks are defined as: ‘transmission systems and, where applicable, switching or routing equipment and other resources, which permit the conveyance of signals by wire, radio, optical or by other electromagnetic means, including satellite networks, fixed (circuit- and packet-switched, including Internet) and mobile terrestrial networks, networks used for radio and television broadcasting, electricity cable systems, to the extent that they are used for the purpose of transmitting signals, and cable television networks, irrespective of the type of information conveyed’; and

(ii) an electronic communications services means ‘a service, normally provided for a fee, which consists wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks, including telecommunications services and transmission services in networks used for broadcasting, with the exclusion of the services which consist in the provision of contents transmitted by means of electronic communications networks and services or which imply an editorial control on such contents; also the information society services, which do not entirely or prevalently consist in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks, are excluded’.

The provision of electronic communications services or networks is subject to a general authorization regime. In particular, Section 25 of the Electronic Communications Code states that any undertaking wishing to provide electronic communications services or networks must file a declaration with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. The activity can be started immediately after the declaration is filed; however, the Ministry can examine the declaration within 60 days and, if there is a grounded reason, can require the relevant undertaking to stop the activity. The general authorization is subject to the payment of an administrative fee. Such fee ranges from a few hundred Euros to up to Euro 127,000 for the provision of a public communications network covering the entire Italian territory. Authorisations for the use of numbers and radio frequency spectrums in mobile or satellite services are also granted by the Ministry and spectrum rights are awarded through public tender procedures.

The Netherlands Small Flag The Netherlands

The Dutch Telecommunications Act (Telecommunicatiewet) regulates the provision of electronic communications networks (ECNs) and electronic communications services (ECS). These categories are then further sub-divided into public and private providers.

Subject to certain exemptions (mostly concerning the use of spectrum), private and public communications providers have a general authorization to operate in the Netherlands and do not require a licence, permit, consent etc. The concept of general authorization is derived from the European Authorisation Directive which has been implemented in the EU Member States.

There is however an obligation to register with the Dutch telecoms regulator (see question 2 below) if one of the following activities are carried out in the Netherlands:

  1. Providing public electronic communications networks;
  2. Proving public electronic communications services;
  3. Implementing or providing related facilities for the above.

An "electronic communications network" is defined as:
a) a transmission system for the conveyance, by the use of electrical, magnetic or electro-magnetic energy, of signals of any description; and
b) such of the following as are used, by the person providing the system and in association with it, for the conveyance of the signals:

(i) apparatus comprised in the system;
(ii) apparatus used for the switching or routing of the signals; and
(iii) software and stored data.

An "electronic communications service” means a service consisting in, or having as its principal feature, the conveyance by means of an electronic communications network of signals (except in so far as it is a content service).

An electronic communications network or service is qualified as being "public" if the network or service is provided to the general public and available for anybody who desires to use it. The fact that an entity provides a service to a specialized group of users does not in itself imply that the service is not public. The District Court of Rotterdam has held that it is not relevant whether a service only targets corporations that use the service for their employees. Also, the fact that a provider provides a service to a specific group of users under special conditions, does not imply that the service cannot be considered public.

To be considered a "provider" of a public electronic communications network or service, that party should be responsible for the transmission of signals through an electronic communications network, regardless of the nature of the service or the infrastructure used. In accordance with case-law of the European Court of Justice, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven, the highest administrative court in these matters) has held that e-mail providers, such as Gmail or Hotmail, cannot be qualified as providers of electronic communications services, as these entities are not responsible for the transfer of signals through electronic communications networks that is required to make use of their e-mail services.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

Yes, both are regulated in Brazil. In order to provide telecom services, the interested party has to apply for a telecommunications license and a spectrum license (when the service depends on the use of spectrum). Services are regulated individually, either through a federal law (which is the case of pay-TV services) or regulations enacted by the telecom regulator (“Anatel”). The most common licenses held by Brazilian companies are: fixed switched telephone services (“FSTS”), cellular telephone services, pay-TV (named as SeAC – conditioned access service) and multimedia communication service license (for broadband data and transmission of voice and image signals).

Over-the-top (OTT) providers (such as Netflix, WhatsApp, Wechat, etc.) are not regulated as telecommunications companies and may be offered without a license.

Networks are also regulated. Mandatory interconnection, offer of wholesale network capacity, duty of equal treatment and non-discrimination and net-neutrality are among the most important rules. Sharing of non-utilized network infrastructure among telecommunication companies and between telecommunications companies and utility companies operating in energy and oil & gas sectors are also mandatory.

Net neutrality, a principle which forbids different treatment of internet traffic on the basis of its origin, destination, application or content, has been assured by Law No. 12,965/2014. Any discrimination or degradation of data traffic may only occur (i) based on technical requirements essential to the adequate provision of services and applications, or (ii) to give priority to emergency services. This matter was further regulated by Decree No. 8,771/2016.

Indonesia Small Flag Indonesia

Yes, communications networks and services are regulated in Indonesia. Law No. 36 of 1999 regarding Telecommunications (September 8, 1999) divides telecommunications operations into three areas:

a. telecommunications networks:

  1. Fixed-line networks consisting of local, domestic long-distance, international and closed fixed networks; and
  2. Mobile networks consisting of mobile terrestrial networks, mobile cellular networks and mobile satellite networks.

b. telecommunications services:

  1. Basic telephone services using circuit switched technology or other technology to provide telephone, facsimile, telex, telegraph and data transmission services;
  2. Value-added telephone services including premium calls, calling cards, virtual private phone numbers, store and forward, and call centres; and
  3. Multimedia services including internet service providers, network access points, internet telephony (VOIP), and data communication system services.

c. special telecommunications for individual purposes, security and defence.

The license required would ultimately depend on which field of telecommunication is being conducted by the business entity. Generally, the license or approval to engage in the telecommunication business will have to be obtained from the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (“MOCI”) or one of its Directorates General.

India Small Flag India

Communications networks and services are regulated in India. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (the “Telegraph Act”) and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 (the “Wireless Telegraphy Act”), provide a framework for the Government to issue licenses to telecommunication service providers. The Telegraph Act defines “telegraph” in so broad a manner as to include most modern communication devices, irrespective of the underlying technology. Accordingly, the Ministry of Communications, which forms part of the Central Government, is empowered to manage, license and regulate all matters relating to telecommunications and networks. There are several Departments, which are either a part of or under the control of, the said Ministry, each responsible for carrying out a given function, as follows:

a. Telecommunications Commission: This is a high-level body represented by various Union Ministers and high-ranking bureaucrats. This body is responsible for policy formulation, implementation of Government's policy in all matters concerning telecommunication, and working with foreign governments towards better cooperation.

b. Department of Telecommunications (“DoT”): This body is empowered under the Telegraph Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Act to grant licenses for telecommunications services and telecommunications infrastructure. The DoT also oversees 2 specialised departments, namely; (i) Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing (responsible for planning, regulating, and managing the limited resources of radio frequency spectrum and associated satellite orbits, licensing of wireless stations in the country under the Telegraph Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Act); and (ii) Telecommunication Engineering Centre (responsible for driving telecom standards, manufacturing support and network building skill sets). The types of licenses/ registration granted by the DoT in relation to telecommunication services are:

  • Unified license – an umbrella license for all forms of telecommunications services (including basic telephony, carrier service, national long distance service, international long distance service, access service, cellular telephony, internet service, and satellite phones, among others).
  • License for voice mail/audiotex/ unified messaging services.
  • Other service provider (“OSP”) registration (including for call centre services).

c. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (“TRAI”): This is a body created by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 1997 (“TRAI Act”), and performs 2 primary functions: (i) make recommendations to the DoT relating to licensing policy and terms; and (ii) regulatory functions. In its regulatory capacity, the TRAI is empowered to monitor and ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of license, fix telecommunications tariffs (including minimum and maximum consumer charges, as well as interconnecting charges between service providers) and terms of interconnectivity between service providers, and ensure technical compatibility and effective interconnection between service providers. In exercising such powers, the TRAI is empowered to initiate inquiries, as and when necessary, against any service provider.

d. Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (“TDSAT”): The TDSAT is a quasi-judicial body created under the TRAI Act, and is the authority responsible for adjudicating upon telecommunications-related disputes.

In addition to the above, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, is the primary governing and regulatory body under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (the “IT Act”). Since the passing of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, the scope of the IT Act has been expanded to telecommunication service providers. Pursuant to the said Amendment, telecommunications devices, such as mobile phones, are classified as “communications devices” and telecommunication services, such as services provided through the use of satellite, wire, wireless, terrestrial line or other communication media, are classified as “computer network”, which are subject to the provisions of the IT Act. Further, telecom service providers are classified as “intermediaries”, and the IT Act, along with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011, specifies conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for an intermediary to claim immunity from offences defined under the IT Act.

Further, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 regulates the operation of cable television networks in the country and to operate a cable television network as a cable operator, necessary registration is required under the said Act. Broadcasting services fall under the purview of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and are mainly controlled under the following regulations and legislations: (i) Prasar Bharti (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990; (ii) Sports Broadcasting Signal Act (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati), 2007; (iii) Policy Guidelines for Uplinking of Television (“TV”) channels; and (iv) Guidelines for Downlinking of TV channels. Specifically, in relation to direct to home (“DTH”) services, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued the “Guidelines for obtaining license for providing DTH broadcasting service in India”. These guidelines, inter alia, prescribe the eligibility criteria, the procedure for obtaining the license to set up and operate DTH services in the country, and the basic terms and conditions/obligations reposed in the operators. It is pertinent to note here that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is a separate ministry altogether. However, the TRAI has formulated numerous regulations with regard to broadcasting services, mainly under the broad heads of “interconnection”, “quality of service” and “tariff orders”.

Israel Small Flag Israel

Communications networks and services are highly regulated in Israel, with regulation spanning from telecommunication services (e.g., land and mobile telephony, internet providers and infrastructure providers) to conventional radio and broadcast services. Generally all conventional telecommunication networks require a governmental permit, license or franchise which may include the scope of permitted services and activities, consumer protection provisions, security and emergency provisions and may prohibit certain broadcast content. Additional regulatory obligations stem from anti-trust considerations.

Singapore Small Flag Singapore

Communications networks and services are regulated in Singapore. A person providing communications networks should obtain a facilities-based operator ("FBO") licence. An FBO licensee would be allowed to deploy and/or operate any form of telecommunication infrastructure for the purpose of providing telecom services to end users or to other telecom licensees.

A person providing communications services should obtain a service-based operator ("SBO") licence. An SBO licensee may lease telecommunication infrastructure from FBO licensees to provide telecommunication services to end users or to resell telecommunication services of other telecoms licensees.

Both licences are issued by the Info-communications Media Development Authority ("IMDA") of Singapore.

France Small Flag France

The installation and operation of networks open to the public and the provision of electronic communication services to the public are free. Network operators and service providers (all of which are designated as ‘operators’) must, however, file a declaration with the national regulatory authority, the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP). Through this declaration, the operators commit themselves to comply with the regulatory regime defined by the EU ‘Telecom Package’ (dating from 2002 and 2009) and the French Posts and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE, art.L.32 et seq.).

However, an individual authorization by the ARCEP is required for the use of certain frequency bands such as those allocated to mobile telephony services (GSM, UMTS), radio local loops, radio-relay systems or satellite networks. In these cases, the regulatory regime is reinforced though additional obligations that are set out in the operators’ licenses.

Conversely, a declaration to the ARCEP is not required in respect of ‘independent networks’ (this corresponds to telecom services exchanged within closed user groups (aka. ‘VPN’ or Virtual Private Networks)) or to radio installations using short-range frequencies that are not dedicated to their users.

Germany Small Flag Germany

Under German law communications networks and services are regulated by the Telecommunications Act (TKG) . The TKG covers activities of sending, transmitting and receiving of signals according to the term “telecommunications services” regulated in section 3 TKG. Service provider is any person who performs telecommunications services wholly or partly for commercial purposes or takes part in these performances of service. However a licence or authorisation for telecommunication service providers is not required. The operators just have to notify the Federal Network Agency about commencement, modification or termination of the activities in accordance with section 6 TKG.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

Communications networks and services are regulated on the federal level, with the main source of law being the Federal Act on Telecommunications of 30 April 1997, as amended (TCA). The TCA governs any transmission of information by means of telecommunications techniques, except for television and radio program services. Further sources of law include the Federal Ordinance on Telecommunications Services of 9 March 2007, as amended (OTS), and the Federal Ordinance on Telecommunications Installations of 25 November 2015, as amended (TIO). As regards electronic communications equipment, Swiss requirements are largely in line with international and particularly European standards. The Federal Council can adopt technical regulations on telecommunications installations, particularly basic technical requirements for telecommunications, evaluation, certification or declaration of conformity. OFCOM regularly designates technical standards. Compliance with these standards fulfils the basic requirements set out by the Federal Council. The standards are further explained in the TIO and the corresponding ordinance by OFCOM.

The telecommunications law framework applies to telecommunication service providers (TSPs), which are providers of services qualifying as telecommunication services. The TCA defines TSPs as services transmitting information for third parties using telecommunications techniques, which include the sending or receiving of information by wire, cable or radio using electrical, magnetic, optical or other electromagnetic signals.

There are two regulatory agencies in the telecommunications sector: the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) and the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) (see Question 2 below). Fixed line and mobile telephony/satellite services are regulated by the TCA and its implementing ordinances. As regards fixed line services, no license is required. Rather, TSPs must (only) notify OFCOM of the intention to operate electronic communications networks or provide respective services. However, ComCom awards one or more universal service licenses to TSPs to ensure that universal service is guaranteed for the whole population of Switzerland in all parts of the country. TSPs offering mobile telephony and satellite services require a license as they make use of the radio frequency system. Generally, ComCom grants these licenses following an open invitation to tender. Consultations as regards to process for and scope of the next allocation provisionally scheduled for 2018 are currently being held. Providers of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services remain unregulated if they provide online services only, without transmitting data using telecommunications techniques. If the provider qualifies as a TSP (e.g. as a VoIP customer can also be reached by way of a fixed line telephone number as part of the public switched telephone network), the TCA applies. However, ComCom does not require such VoIP providers to fulfil all obligations the TCA imposes on regular TSPs; for example, they are under no duty to enable free carrier pre-selection (since there is no close link that needs to be broken between a network and a service operator) or the identification of the caller’s location in the case of emergency calls (which would be technically difficult to establish).

Ecuador Small Flag Ecuador

The radio spectrum and the general regime of communications and telecommunications are the exclusive competence of the Central State. Because of this, it is the State who is in charge of administrating, regulating, controlling and managing the telecommunications field in the country, being considered a strategic sector from a constitutional sphere. A strategic sector is defined as those areas that because of their importance and magnitude have a decisive economic, social, political or environmental influence, and must be channeled for the full development of rights and social interest.

Additionally, the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, published on October 20, 2008 in Official Register No. 449, defines telecommunications as one of the public services to be provided by the State, who furthermore is empowered to control and regulate it.

In light of the above, telecommunications in Ecuador are regulated through the Organic Telecommunications Law, (whose last reform entered into force on February 18, 2015), and its Rules, in force since January 25th, 2016. Said regulation, based on the constitutional mandate, has as its purpose to develop the general telecommunications and radio spectrum regime, having the State the authority to administrate, regulate, control and manage in the entire national territory.

The Telecommunications Law applies to all activities of establishment, installation, and operation of networks; use and operation of radio spectrum; telecommunications services; sound and television broadcast services, and audio and video subscription system networks.

The Telecommunications Regulator and Control Agency (Agencia de Regulación y Control de Telecomunicaciones “ARCOTEL”) is the agency in charge of issuing the licenses necessary for a natural or legal person to be able to provide telecommunication services. The aforementioned licenses can be divided in three groups:

  1. Concession: Applies for the provision of landline telephone services and advance mobile phone services by private, mixed or popular and solidarity economy companies.
  2. Authorizations: Applies for the use and exploitation of the radio spectrum by public companies and State entities. It is also applicable for the provision of audio and video subscription services for natural and legal persons governed by private law, which is implemented through a permit.
  3. Registration of Services: Applies to natural and legal persons providers of carrier services, submarine cable operators, radio amateur, added value, radio communication, networks and private use and resale activities.

For the granting and renewal of the licenses for the provision of services, the ARCOTEL takes into account the need to meet: the technological development, the evolution of the markets, the National Telecommunications Plan, the needs for the sustained development of the sector and of the State, and the universal access to information and telecommunications technologies, as well as, effective fulfillment of the public or general interest.

The licenses, which are product of the concessions and authorizations for the provision of telecommunication services, have duration of up to fifteen years.

Without previous written authorization by the Telecommunications Regulatory and Control Agency, the licenses cannot be disposed, assigned, transferred, leased or encumbered by any means. If any of the fore mentioned have taken place, said infringement is sufficient grounds for the early termination of the license.

For the granting of the radio spectrum licenses, the State must attend to the public interest, promote the rational and efficient use of previously referred to limited resource, ensure equal and fair access and assignment under transparent conditions. To that effect, the State can deny the granting of licenses for the use of the spectrum when the public or general interest prevails.

On the other hand, it is important to note that Ecuador is a member of the Andean Community of Nations since 1969; organism that through decisions of a supra-national character has also regulated the telecommunications sector in Ecuador, of which the following can be mentioned:

  • Decision of the 462 Cartagena Agreement, of September 02, 1999, known as Integration of the Andean Telecommunications Services.
  • Decision of the Cartagena Agreement No. 432 of February 14, 2001, through which the Common Interconnection Standards are regulated.
  • Resolution of the Andean Secretariat No. 59 of April 27, 1998, known as Regulation for the Application of the Reciprocity Principle in the Authorizations that are Granted on Specific Parts of the Orbit Resource/Spectrum of the Member States.

It is important to understand that all the legislation that regulates telecommunications issues must be in harmony with what is established by the Constitution, in view of the constitutional supremacy principle that governs in Ecuador.

Updated: October 10, 2017