The National Communications Authority (ANACOM) today recommended that the Government designate, through a public tender, a provider at national level for the fixed telephone service and another for the public payphone service, reducing deadlines and contract values.
The regulator maintains that the designation is made for a transitional period of one year, extendable up to one more, and that the base price in the case of the tender for the provision of fixed telephone service is 50 thousand euros for the first year of validity of the (which compares with the current cost of 1.9 million euros per year).
If there is an extension, ANACOM said in a statement, and if the number of calls during the first year of the contract has not exceeded 20, the amount of funding will be reduced to half the amount of the first year's financing.
In the provision of public payphones (such as telephone booths), the recommended base price is 52,500 euros for the duration of the one-year contract (compared to the current cost of 2.5 million euros for one park of 8222 public posts) to ensure the availability of a total of 175 public payphones in a set of 175 predominantly rural parishes and in all the islands of the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.
Today's position comes after ANACOM has recommended to the Government that it should not designate providers for the various components of the universal electronic communications service, which includes the fixed telephone service, booths and telephone directories currently provided by Nos. and Meo.
This is because, according to the regulator, the universal service costing almost 24 million euros, financed by the Compensation Fund – to which the operators of the sector contributes – over a period of five years of current services. ends up being indirectly supported by all consumers and users.
This change, however, requires the amendment of the Electronic Communications Law.
As the law has not yet been amended, and given that the current contracts for the universal service of public payphones and landline telephones terminate shortly, the Government requested the regulator, in order to prevent the law from being changed in a timely manner, to trigger the a public consultation, which ended on March 7 and received contributions from 15 entities, including from several Town Councils, which considered as a priority the improvement of mobile network coverage and broadband Internet access .
According to ANACOM's recommendation, "an entity should be selected for each of the services, which, by complying with the defined quality of service levels and ensuring the availability of prices to consumers, presents the proposal at the lowest cost for the total of the designation period ".
On this occasion, ANACOM also approved the decision on the conditions and specifications of universal service provision for connection to a public communications network at a fixed location and provision of a telephone service accessible to the public through that connection and the provision of public payphones.
In the event that a legislative change, such as that recommended by ANACOM, takes place, it will make it unnecessary to launch the tender procedures to select the entities that will be in charge of securing the services in question, he adds.
ANACOM's recommendation that it not consider necessary the appointment of providers was preceded by a public consultation – in which the four largest operators participated (Meo, Nos, NOWO / ONI, Vodafone).
During the public consultation, Nos and Vodafone argued that there is no need to designate the universal service provider in any of its components: landline, public payphones and directory inquiry services. They also considered that broadband should not be included in the universal service, which is shared with Meo.
Meo also considers that it is not necessary to maintain the universal service in the fixed-line component, but it defends the appointment of a provider in the case of public payphones and the lists and information service 118, which it currently provides.
NOWO / ONI defends the continuity of the service.
According to ANACOM, at the level of the European Union there are already six Member States that do not designate providers for any universal service component: Germany, Estonia, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Sweden.
According to data from the regulator, there are currently only two fixed-line universal service customers in existence for about four years at a cost of 9.6 million euros.
In relation to public payphones / telephone booths, the portion that is financed represents 42% of the existing park and costs 12.3 million euros, for an average of two daily calls between 2016 and 2017.