On August 16, the Assembly of the Republic approved Law no. 16/2022, known as the Electronic Communications Law.
Law No. 16/2022 transposed European Directives concerning the modernization of the telecommunications sector, regarding matters of regulation, security, competition and user protection. These European Directives gave rise to what became known as the European Electronic Communications Code.
The draft on which the Electronic Communications Law was based “simplifies the rules applicable to electronic communications, providing greater clarity and legal certainty in the scope of contracts for the provision of electronic communications services and enhances consumer protection, whether in terms of access to the universal service, or in terms of the rules for switching operators, or in terms of loyalty period”, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers on the matter.
The Electronic Communications Law fundamentally establishes:
- The legal framework applicable to electronic networks and services, related resources and services, management of the radio frequency spectrum and numbering resources, as well as certain aspects of terminal equipment;Lists a series of definitions applicable to the scope of the Law, namely an extension of the concept of “electronic communications service”, which now has a broader scope of service providers.
- Establishes the powers of the National Regulatory Authority (“NRA”) and other competent authorities in these areas.
- Establishes the general authorization regime, imposing a communication duty, according to which companies wishing to offer networks of public electronic communications and electronic communications services accessible to the public must previously notify the NRA of the start of activity, which requires a list of necessary information.
- Provides for new means of cooperation aiming to increase the general quality of service provision;
- Strengthens the public consultation procedure;
- Consolidates the legal framework provided for the administrative resolution of disputes between companies;
- Develops the means of resolving cross-border disputes;
- Simplifies the legal regime provided for judicial control, providing that decisions, orders or other measures adopted by the NRA in the context of administrative offense proceedings arising from the application of the legal regime for electronic communications are open to challenge.
- In terms of loyalty period, the Law provides for a set of situations in which operators cannot demand from the contract holder the payment of any charges related to non-compliance with the loyalty period.
An update was also carried out on the applicable administrative infractions and fines, as well as the accessory sanctions and periodic penalty payments. In addition, an administrative non-compliance procedure was introduced.
The Electronic Communications Law came to harmonize and deepen what is already known as the Digital Single Market. It will become effective on November 14, 2022.
Marta Borges (Partner) / Rodrigo Sá Pereira (Junior Associate)
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