Vodafone has today sent Anacom its comments on the Notification of the likely outcome of the Decision on interconnection of networks, received on 21 August.
In its comments, Vodafone repeats its doubts about the legal and regulatory basis allowing OniWay to supply GSM services, in view of the fact that it is not licensed to do so, and to apply for interconnection. Vodafone considers that giving OniWay the right to supply voice and data services accessible via GSM technology strikes at the heart of GSM licensing, in that access to GSM frequencies was the subject of a restricted public tender.
Vodafone believes that the objective of assigning UMTS licences by public tender – to further the establishment by operators of UMTS networks and the supply of third-generation telecommunications services – will be undermined by allowing an operator to enter the business without having made the corresponding investment in UMTS.
Vodafone also considers that allowing this to happen will be a disincentive to companies making such investments and creating their own UMTS networks, and could lead to a situation of inverse discrimination in which a virtual operator is allowed to provide services for which it is not licensed, without having made the corresponding investment. If this happened, it would amount to a significant alteration to the conditions of the GSM tenders, in which such a possibility had not been contemplated.
In addition, if by chance OniWay acquired the minimum UMTS coverage to allow it to enter the business, then the so-called roaming agreement with TMN would be sufficient to provide coverage in geographical areas where OniWay did not have UMTS coverage.
If this were not the case, the agreement with TMN would amount to a situation in which a virtual operator was granted access to the network, something not contemplated in the current GSM licences held by operators. Vodafone has reiterated to Anacom the importance of ensuring that such access agreement does not violate the principles of fair competition and should therefore be transparent and non-discriminatory. Further, if there are to be access agreements, Anacom should first define the regulatory framework for virtual operators and amend GSM operators’ licences to allow them to supply services to such virtual operators.
Vodafone remains prepared to enter into an interconnection agreement with OniWay on the terms proposed, which include immediate interconnection for GPRS services and for other services as soon as OniWay begins to supply UMTS services. To date, such an agreement has been rejected by OniWay.