The continuing evolution and advancement of digital communications around the world, from software-defined networking in a wide area network to over-the-top media services, has created significant business opportunities and advantages across borders. In response to such evolution and advancement, regulators around the world are reviewing their existing telecom regulation to see if it is still fit for purpose in this converging digital environment.
The EU has been leading the charge with the implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and elsewhere, several other jurisdictions outside the EU have reviewed or are looking to review their current regulatory approach to bring it in line with the new definitions contained in the EECC. Therefore, ensuring compliance with the code and other applicable communications laws will be a key theme for 2022.
We have developed a new tool to help companies assess whether their service offerings may make them subject to communications laws, such as the new EU code, and to certain licensing or other authorization requirements.
We call it the Digital Communications Market Access Tool (DCMAT) and like to keep it simple:
- Select your relevant jurisdictions
- Answer a few questions about your service
- DCMAT will automatically generate a “traffic lights” risk assessment.
This will help in-house legal teams narrow down the list of countries where to seek outside counsel support. For EEA countries, DCMAT will also automatically provide a summary of the applicable regulatory requirements under the code.
DCMAT is currently available on a free trial basis and is particularly well suited for communications companies that do not have an in-house regulatory team in each jurisdiction in which they currently do, or plan to do, business.
Implementing the EECC throughout the European Economic Area meant member states had to transpose this regulatory framework into national law by, and to apply from, Dec. 20, 2020. While the majority of member states are late in transposing the code, partially due to the pandemic, EU case law requires them to apply existing rules in a manner that would not compromise the application of the code even prior to its transposition.
Despite the UK’s exit from the EU, the UK government has pledged to apply the code in the UK too, but has so far delayed the extension of the rules to number-independent services. This might well change in 2022.
As mentioned above, several other jurisdictions outside the EU have reviewed or are looking to review their current regulatory approach to bring it in line with the new definitions contained in the EECC.
What Networks and Services Does The EECC Cover?
The code attaches different regulatory treatment to different categories of regulated networks and services, for example, private networks are subject to lighter regulation than public networks, and number-independent services are subject to lighter regulation than number-dependent services (i.e., services allowing a dial-in or dial-out functionality with national or international numbers). The extent to which the regulation will apply to new forms of digital communication, as well as the actual obligations applicable to each network and service, will therefore depend on its legal characterization under the code.