29 January 2009

Good news for bulgarian mobile network subscribers


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The European Commission (EC) has submitted a letter to the Bulgarian telecoms regulator, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) ordering it to to take action to further reduce mobile termination rate.
“Termination rates” are what mobile operators charge each other and are due when a call originated by a subscriber within the network of one operator is to be connected to a subscriber of another operator’s network.

Not surprisingly, with 15.09 eurocent/minute mobile termination rates in Bulgaria were the highest in the EU in 2008 (EU average: 8.7 eurocent/minute).
The EC also asks CRC not to discriminate when setting the level of termination rates between fixed and mobile networks and to apply similar termination rates for mobile calls originating from other mobile and fixed networks.

In its draft measure, the CRC set a target to achieve mobile termination rates at a level of 7.6 eurocents/minute (for peak traffic) in 2010. However, according to the European Regulators Group, which brings together the EU’s 27 national telecoms regulators, this level is already undercut by many Member States such as Cyprus (2.01 eurocents/minute), Sweden (4.55 eurocents), Finland (5.29 eurocents), Austria (6 eurocents), Slovenia (6.38 eurocents), Romania (6.78 eurocents) and France (6.85 eurocents) as of today.

So, thank you EU, for this expected decrease of rates which, I beleive, would never have come by virtue of the national regulator being actually in charge to further competition and subscriber protection.

26 January 2009

A lesson in political stubborness


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Bulgarians are known as notably stubborn and even bull-headed. Circumventing a supreme court’s decision, however, successfully blurs the border to the political blindness!

The circumvention attempt follows the defeat of Regulation Nr 40 (collectively issued by the Ministry of Interior and the State Agency on Information Technologies and Communication) before the Supreme Administrative Court.

Nevertheless, the logic behind it appears to have been borrowed from a bad gambler: once the transposition of the Directive 2006/24/EC by means of a statutory instrument (=Regulation Nr 40) did not work, the only way is to raise the stakes!
How should that work, you may ask? Well, in that they bluff!

Indeed, in a joint session the parliamentary Committees for Interior and for Transportation and Communication have prepared an amendment to the Act on Electronic Communications, whereupon a new regulation shall determine the procedure of retaining communication data and govern the access thereto.
Funnily, the regulation is intended to be the collective outcome of even three authorities – the Minister of Interior, the Chair of the State Agency for National Security and the Chair of the aforementioned State Agency on Information Technologies and Communication.

Sounds promissing and I will keep an eye on it!

23 December 2008

Will the data retention directive be fully implemented across Europe?


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Yesterday I had an interesting discussion on an, to some extent, older issue – the data retention directive – with some friends of mine.

The compelling event of the discussion was the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court’s decision to repeal some provisions in a regulation transposing the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC into Bulgarian national law. Appearantly, the decision was dictated by the lack of judicial revision as the acts determined in aforementioned regulation were to be undertaken solely by the administration of the Ministry of Interior.

The Directive itself has recently been the subject of a higher level revision.
Advocate General Yves Bot appears to share the Irish deliberations as to whether the Directive was adopted on an appropriate legal basis .

In any case we may remain curious what the future will bring as data retention in its current shape deeply affects our individuals’ right of privacy.