Cracking The Code: Overview Of Major Irish Telecommunications Law Changes Ahead
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.
Matheson held a webinar on 29 March 2022 to discuss the key
changes introduced by the European Electronic Communications Code
(the “EECC“) and learn from the
experience of various representatives of the telecommunications
industry in implementing these changes to date. We were joined by
Niamh Hodnett, the Head of Regulatory Affairs at
Three Ireland and Ronan Lupton
SC, who acts as independent chair to the
telecommunications industry association ALTO.
Here we present some key takeaways from the webinar:
- End-User Rights: Regarded as the main impact
of the EECC on telcos and seen by the attendees as drivers of
future enforcement activity, telcos implemented the following
changes, to the give effect to the new end-user rights introduced
in the EECC:
- Developing pre-contract summary templates in line with the
prescriptive guidelines set out in the EECC (outlined in our Cracking the Code: New Customer Contract
- Building in the provision of best tariff advice
(“BTA“) and best tariff information
(“BTI“) into the contract process
(outlined in our Cracking the Code: Ongoing Obligations
article). In this regard, it is important for telcos to observe the
provisions of the ePrivacy Regulations and ensure that the BTA and
BTI notices are not perceived as direct marketing by their
- Updating the scripts of the customer service representatives to
comply with the obligations set out in the EECC in relation to
cancellation, renewal and automatic prolongation of contracts,
while ensuring a positive customer experience.
- Developing pre-contract summary templates in line with the
- Transparency, Comparison and Information:
Implementation of Article 103 of the EECC has proved to be complex
for Irish telcos industry, resulting in a high cost of compliance
and extraordinary business impact.
- Right of Exit: Provisions relating to the
right of exit are of great significance to telcos. In particular,
the right of exit provided in Article 105(4) of the EECC has been
extended to bundles, while certain elements of bundles would be
- ComReg’s Role: There remains some
ambiguity in relation to automatic prolongation, cancellation,
contract issues and quality of service elements of the EECC. Telcos
would welcome a more active role for ComReg in guiding the industry
towards compliance with the EECC.
- Poll Results: Our poll results highlight the
impact of end-user rights on telcos.
WHAT IS THE MAIN IMPACT OF THE CODE FOR YOU?
Coming under electronic communications regulation for the first
Roll back of wholesale regulation
What end-user right do you see being a main driver of ComReg
Renewal terms (best tariff information /
Termination (including ‘contractual modification’)
Do you think administrative sanctions will improve the delivery
Preparing for the Major Irish Telecommunications Law Changes
Ahead: What You Need to Know
- The EECC will strengthen and harmonise consumer
protection across the EU
The EECC will align protections for end-users of over-the-top
service providers (“OTTs“) with those of
traditional telecoms providers. The measures will require maximum
harmonisation across the EU, but Member States are invited to
introduce additional measures where needed.
Key changes include enhanced end-user rights in relation to
sign-up, renewal, automatic prolongation, termination, the
switching of internet access services and the porting of phone
numbers, establishing a universal service ensuring availability and
affordability of both broadband and voice communications, and
enhancing security of networks and services.
End-user rights were seen by the attendees as the main drivers of
future enforcement activity by ComReg.
- The EECC and the implementing Communications Regulation
(Enforcement) Bill 2022 will enhance ComReg’s investigatory and
ComReg is one of the most active regulators in Ireland, having
completed around 30 enforcement cases (about a third of which were
criminal court cases) and dealt with more than a few judicial
reviews in the last three years, despite the disruption of the
The Communications Regulation (Enforcement) Bill 2022 (the
“Bill“) will introduce a range of new
offences to enforce the changes brought in by the EECC and will
give ComReg enhanced investigatory and enforcement powers. The new
civil enforcement regime will comprise new investigation and
adjudication powers for ComReg, where it considers there to be a
‘regulatory breach’ in the electronic communications
sector. These powers will enable ComReg to (i) impose
administrative financial sanctions on undertakings up to a maximum
of ?5 million or 10% of annual turnover (whichever is the greater),
and (ii) require undertakings to pay compensation to end-users
(identical monetary caps to apply), subject to confirmation of the
In respect of ComReg’s criminal enforcement regime, the Bill
also provides for a higher penalty for the commission of an
indictable offence so as to ensure parity with the above-described
civil fine limits (a fine not exceeding ?5 million).
ComReg has been particularly active in enforcing contract issues,
signing up, and termination / right of exit obligations and as
such, we expect to see an increase in enforcement activity and
robust appeals and defences process. See our Cracking the Code: Ireland upgrades its
telecommunications regulatory enforcement regime article
summarising the recently published Bill.
- Interpersonal communication service providers will be
regulated in the same manner as traditional telcos under the
EECCThe EECC extends telecoms regulation and rules to OTTs
such as interpersonal communication apps and services
(“ICS“) (eg, IM, Skype, Viber, cloud
services and content providers, etc) that were not regulated on the
basis of the current framework to even out the playing field
between traditional telcos and OTTs and ensure continued investment
and competition in line with EU’s Digital Agenda goals.
OTTs will now be required to:
– obtain an authorisation;
– comply with the rules set out in the general telecoms framework
(including regulatory levies, information requests and
‘authorised officer’ visits (ie, dawn raids);
– introduce ‘state of the art’ security system requirements
to ensure network / service integrity; and
– comply with end-user rights obligations, which vary depending on
whether the ICS provider is number-based or number-independent
- Becoming a regulated telco will have a significant
knock-on effect for OTTs and technology
In addition to the requirements imposed by the EECC, OTTs should
prepare for the significant knock-on effects of becoming a
regulated telco, such as compliance with the ePrivacy Regime and
the Interception Regime.
The ePrivacy Regime, which sits alongside the GDPR rules, will
apply to the regulated services imposing obligations in relation to
security, secrecy of communications and use of traffic data, among
While it is unclear to what extent the Interception Regime will
apply to OTTs as the Department of the Environment, Climate and
Communications has indicated that the regime would not apply to
number-based ICS, the regime is certainly in need of reform and the
applicability of the regime to OTTs may change in the future.
- The EECC enhances cybersecurity measuresTelcos and now OTTs will have to implement the relevant
network and service security provisions contained in Articles 40
and 41 of the EECC. This will enhance the existing security
measures and introduce ‘state of the art’ security system
requirements to ensure network security and service integrity.
Telcos and OTTs will also have to report significant incidents to
ComReg. Regulated telcos should prepare for the additional
reporting responsibilities, alongside GDPR, ePrivay and other
overlapping notifications. See further in Cracking The Code: New Security and Outage
Reporting Obligations for Internet-Based Providers.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment from Ireland