23 January, 2019

Joint ETNO / GSMA response to the BEREC public consultation on the Draft BEREC Report on Terminating Contracts and Switching Provider

Do you have any comments or observations regarding the processes set out in Section 2 above, related to the switching of provider for different categories of ECS and the safeguards that are provided to consumers?

  • ETNO and GSMA find it surprising that BEREC has decided to look into contract termination and provider switching while the relevant regulation has been updated and significantly tightened – even including new far-reaching provisions on telecom bundles – in the new Directive (EU) 2018/1972 establishing a European Electronic Communications Code (EECC).
  • The updated rules in the EECC are based on an impact assessment including some conclusions that could be challenged. For example, if an end-user abstains from switching to a new operator because he is satisfied with the current operator, this must not be considered as a “switching barrier” but rather as a very positive finding. In any case, suggesting further tightening of switching provisions would be highly inappropriate.
  • We do not see a need to further adjust the EECC rules on this subject matter or to add new obligations. Accordingly, for the sake of legal certainty and proportionality, we suggest that Member States apply the rules laid down in the EECC and refrain from adding rules where possible.
  • As far as Section 2 of the draft BEREC report is concerned, the results are too generic and it is not clear which processes and approaches across different services are available in each Member State. The report does not contain empirical research into experiences of end-users and providers. It is not clear whether BEREC's research also focused on processes for (small) business users. Furthermore, there is no qualitative assessment concerning the processes in each Member State. These results are therefore not very meaningful and no useful conclusion can be drawn from them. Therefore, the conclusions in Section 4 regarding the key factors and the biggest obstacles that consumers face in each Member State are not sufficiently substantiated in our view.
  • Section 2 emphasizes the importance of the validation and authorisation of a consumer request to switch. The report exposes considerable differences in the customer validation and authorisation processes in different Member States. However, in Section 4 of the report BEREC does not consider this as a key factor or an obstacle.
  • An ETNO and GSMA’s member operating in the Dutch market noted that the description of the switching process in the Netherlands at page 8 of the report is not accurate. Notably, the self-regulation agreements regarding a switching service for internet services or packages with internet as well as fixed telephony and packages including television services is led by the Receiving Provider (RP). Only in a very limited number of cases (e.g. when an end-user changes address), the consumer has to cancel its services with the Transferring Provider (TP). There is also a switching service in place for (small) business users.

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