The Position of the President of UKE on telecommunications access to mobile networks for the providers of telecommunications services in fixed-line networks.
Due to some feedback recently received by the President of UKE that there is market demand on one hand and technical capability on the other of the existing networks to support cooperation between fixed-line and mobile operators consisting in particular in the provision of a wireless local loop by a mobile operator to a fixed-line operator, the President of UKE would like to present the following position.
Mobile operators use radio frequencies to provide services in their mobile networks based on frequency reservations which in legal terms succeeded frequency assignments granted in the licences issued under the Communications Act of 23 November 1990 due to the fact that under subsequent acts the latter have become frequency reservations within the meaning of the Telecommunications Act of 16 July 2004.
According to the license, operators may not use assigned frequencies for other purposes than to provide services in line with the licence and ETSI standards. In addition, telecommunications activities must be performed in accordance with the applicable provisions, and in this case, in particular with the National Table of Frequency Allocations.
Furthermore, it should be stressed that under Article 142 (1) (1) (a) of the Telecommunications Act of 21 July 2000, licences for the provision of telecommunications services together with authorisations for the establishment and use of a public telephone network have become telecommunications authorisations.
These authorisations, under Article 224 (6) of the Telecommunications Act of 16 July 2004, expired on the day of entry in the register of telecommunications undertakings.
Due to the changes in the applicable provisions, telecommunications activities are performed on the basis of entry in the register and not of an authorisation. At the moment of entering mobile operators in the register, telecommunications authorisations of these operators expired. However, due to the fact that frequency assignments transformed into reservations, the conditions for the frequency use laid down in the assignments, still remain in force as they have become the conditions for the frequency use within the meaning of current provisions.
Among the conditions specified in the licences that were issued for all mobile operators (Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa Sp. z o.o., POLKOMTEL S.A., PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o.), it was stated that “an operator has the right to use radio channels defined in the licence to transmit signals via a Base Transceiver Station (BTS) to Mobile Stations (MS) and to transmit signals via Mobile Stations to a Base Transceiver Station”.
According to an Ordinance of the Council of Ministers of 29 June 2005 on the National Table of Frequency Allocations (Official Journal No 134, item 1127), frequencies within the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands which have been reserved for mobile operators are designated exclusively for use by devices operating in the mobile service.
In the light of these considerations, the President of UKE thinks that telecommunications access described in the above which consists in offering access to one’s telecommunications network according to ETSI/GSM standards for another telecommunications undertaking to offer telecommunications services to its subscribers, complies with frequency reservations held by Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa Sp. z o.o., POLKOMTEL S.A., PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o. and with the applicable provisions of law.
This type of network access is similar to wholesale line rental available in fixed-line networks.
A fixed-line operator granted access to the mobile operator’s network purchases from the latter a set of mobile lines and maintenance thereof, starting from an interconnection point to the customer’s location. When purchasing subscriber lines, a fixed-line operator purchases SIM cards which are installed at the subscribers’ locations.
A fixed-line subscriber still remains a customer of its fixed-line operator. It is assigned with a fixed-line number from a numbering assignment held by a fixed-line operator.
Individual SIM cards, depending on the address at which they were installed (numbering area), will be assigned to a relevant exchange and operated by a specific exchange of a mobile operator. Telephone calls originated by the subscribers will always be routed by a mobile network to an interconnection point at which a fixed-line operator was granted access to a mobile network. At this point a number will be translated and the call will be accordingly forwarded and recognised as a fixed-line call. In addition, from the service perspective a fixed-line operator provides the service in such a manner that it does not loose the properties of a fixed-line service.
Taking account of the above assumptions, according to the President of UKE, this type of telecommunications access offered by a mobile operator to a fixed-line operator will constitute access to a network operating in the mobile radiocommunication service provided for in the Ordinance of the Council of Ministers on the National Table of Frequency Allocations and in reservations held by the mobile operators.
Permanent points of service provision will not decide that the service changes its nature to a fixed-line service, in particular because they will not be an integral part of the mobile network. From the perspective of a fixed-line operator as a party to a network access service, the nature of the service will be mobile because the operator will be free to change the actual location of sockets and SIM cards placed in these sockets.
According to Article 2 point 38 of the Telecommunications Act, a public fixed network shall be a network where the network termination points have a permanent location.
According to Article 2 point 52 of the Act, a network termination point shall be a physical point at which a subscriber is provided with access to a public telecommunications network; in the case of networks involving switching or routing, the network termination point is identified by means of a specific network address, which may be assigned to a subscriber number or name.
The location of mobile network termination points is not permanent, which means that it may change. The possibility to change network termination points means that users using terminal equipment connected to mobile network termination points may move around within the whole area operated by the network. A mobile network must therefore be able to hand over the operation of a network termination point between base stations as the location of a user changes. This enables making calls between network termination points located in any place covered by a specific network without it being necessary for users originating calls to know the locations. However, there are no obstacles to install network termination points with a permanent location in the mobile network. The possibility to change the location of a network termination point is a right or a potential network capability which does not have to be used. (S. Piątek, Prawo telekomunikacyjne, Komentarz. Wyd. C.H. Beck, Warsaw 2005, page. 97).
The President of UKE would like to stress that the proliferation of services provided in this manner may bring benefits to the subscribers using fixed-line telephony in the NMT technology enabling improvement in the quality of services provided to these subscribers, accompanied with releasing the NMT band and its more effective use in the future.
President of the Office of Electronic Communications