On 4 November 2004, the President of the Office of Telecommunications and Post Regulation issued a decision concerning the change of an agreement on interconnection of Tele2 network with the network of TP S.A within the scope enabling the subscribers of TP S.A. access via a network access code or preselection to local and long–distance services provided by Tele 2.
According to the Telecommunications law, subscribers of the fixed public telephone network operated by an operator with significant market power can choose any operator providing telephone services via:
So far the subscribers of fixed networks could select an alternative operator for long-distance, international and mobile calls. They could not select an alternative operator for local calls due to the lack of relevant agreements between TP S.A. and other operators. In addition, TP S.A. submitted a request to the President of URTiP to suspend the execution of these rights due to lack of technical capability.
As early as on 14 July 2003, the Tele 2 company turned to TP S.A to change the interconnection agreement in the scope of local calls. Unfortunately by the time the request was submitted to the President of URTiP, the operators had not reached the agreement. This means that according to the Telecommunications law the President of URTiP could ex officio make a change in the agreement between operators at the request of one of the parties (on 1 March 2004 Tele 2 submitted the request).
The decision of the President of URTiP of 4 November 2004 will enable the subscribers of TP S.A the execution of their right to select Tele 2 as an operator for local calls. So this is the first precedential decision of the regulator which opens the market of local calls to alternative operators. The next step on the way to the full liberalization of the Polish telecommunication services market will be the approval of the Reference Unbundling Offer.
In the opinion of the President of URTiP Witold Graboś, from the point of view of the cooperation between TP S.A. and Tele 2, the introduction by Tele 2 of local services via a network access code will not mean the necessity of introducing major changes in the exchanges because no new interconnection service will appear in them. The President of URTiP established a two-week term for the operators to carry our the necessary tests after which the activation of the service will become possible.
In the decision it was established that providing local services in the area of the entire country will be taking place via the already existing interconnection points between Tele 2 and TP S.A. Currently both operators own interconnection points on the level of 12 transit exchanges in which the long-distance, international and calls to mobile networks are made via access codes or preselection. The President of URTiP decided that imposing the necessity of building additional 102 interconnection points on the level of local exchanges (requested by TP S.A.) would significantly delay the possibility of offering by Tele2 local services to the subscribers of TP S.A. The solution approved by the President of URTiP does not exclude the possibility of establishing another level of access by both companies.
The position of the President of URTiP was supported by the National Chamber of Electronics and Telecommunication (KIGEiT) representing the opinion of telecommunication operators. The operators associated in the Chamber accepted the model establishing 12 interconnection points because this is the number which can be realized by alternative operators. With high costs of network connection the approval of a model which assumes a separate interconnection point for each type of connection will prevent new entrants from starting telecommunication activities. As a result it will lead to price freezing or elimination of competition from the market. KIGEiT pointed out that the costs of construction or extension of interconnection points are in reality covered by the operators in the form of interconnection fees for TP S.A.
The decision was given the clause of immediate enforceability due to the important interest of the party and the important social interest. The President Witold Graboś acknowledged that it was the first decision opening the market of local calls and it is supposed to serve further liberalization of the telecommunication market in Poland. It is therefore necessary that the provisions of this decision are immediately implemented because they will contribute to the widening of the scope of commonly provided services and cause the decrease in their prices, creating the conditions for the development of a competitive market.
The decision of the President of URTiP can be appealed by the parties to the Court for Competition and Consumer Protection within 14 days from the date the decision is received.
It should be noted that also the proceeding on the suspension of subscribers’ rights regarding the selection of the operator providing local services via preselection and access code has been closed.
On 5 October 2004, the President of URTiP, having analysed technical and legal capacities, issued a decision suspending the rights of TP S.A. subscribers connected to analogue exchanges with regard to the selection of an operator providing local telephone services via preselection. The subscribers of analogue exchanges (until they are exchanged for digital ones) may select an alternative operator only via a network access code.
In addition, the President of URTiP refused to suspend the rights of subscribers of TP S.A. connected to digital exchanges – they can select an alternative operator providing local services both via preselection and network access code.