Which services and networks are subject to the Electronic Communications Act? - PTS-ER-2009:12

04/05/2009

The Electronic Communications Act (2003:389), or LEK, entered into force on 25 July 2003. The provisions contained in LEK encompass more communications services and communications networks than the formerly applicable Telecommunications Act (1993: 597). LEK does not go into detail about the services or networks that are encompassed; instead, the general concepts of ‘electronic communications service’ and ‘electronic communications network’ are used.

An electronic communications service is defined in LEK as a service normally provided for remuneration which consists wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks. In its report, PTS presents a model for analysis of the various components of the definition and establishes a number of criteria which must be fulfilled for a service to be considered an electronic communications service.

Very briefly, a summary of these criteria means that if:

  • the service is provided to another (external) party, on commercial grounds, and
  • the service consists mainly in the conveyance of signals, and
  • the service provider has the power to control the transmission,

then it is an electronic communications service. The power to control the conveyance of signals is an important factor when making an assessment.

‘Electronic communications networks’ are defined in LEK as transmission systems and, where applicable, switching or routing equipment and other resources which permit the conveyance of signals by wire or radio waves, by optical or by other electromagnetic means, irrespective of the type of information conveyed.

According to PTS, a communications network consists of both physical and/or logical networks, including switches and other parts that are crucial to the capacity of the networks to convey signals both within the communications network itself as well as between different communications networks. Consequently, the main emphasis of the assessment is on whether the system or the component part is an essential prerequisite for this capacity to convey signals. In themselves, true support systems – through this line of reasoning – are not a part of the communications network.

Finally, in its impact analysis, PTS makes the concluding assessment that application of this model will not affect consumers or other end users to any appreciable extent, but it may lead to reduction of costs for the market and also improve the efficiency of PTS’s own operations.