The public consultation took place between 26 July and 8 November 2019. The objective of the consultation was to gather the views of stakeholders regarding various implementation aspects of Union-wide fixed and mobile voice call termination rates, called Eurorates, in particular the scope of application and exceptional circumstances.

Objectives of the consultation

Pursuant to Article 75 of the European Electronic Communications Code, the Commission services are preparing a delegated act setting the Eurorates.

Termination rates are the rates telecommunications operators charge each other to deliver voice calls between their networks. The wholesale cost of delivering voice calls can be passed on to consumers.

This measure aims at protecting end users from excessive retail prices resulting from electronic communications operators’ ability and incentive to raise voice call termination rates substantially above costs and pass those excessive rates on to subscribers.

In this context and following the better regulation guidelines, the Commission launched an open public consultation on certain implementing aspects of the delegated act. The goal of the consultation was to collect feedback and views on the implementation aspects of the Eurorates, in order to ensure a consistent, predictable, efficient and transparent implementation.

Given the complex and technical nature of this public consultation, questions in sections "Scope of application" and "Exceptional national circumstances and transitional period" were addressed to all stakeholders, including citizens. More technical questions in other sections were mainly addressed to stakeholders with significant experience in the market, such as national regulatory authorities, Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), industry and consumer associations and operators.

Who replied to the consultation?

There were 68 respondents, including 32 companies or business organisations, 6 business associations, 19 EU citizens, 1 non-EU citizen, 9 public authorities (national regulatory authorities, Ministries and BEREC) and 1 non-governmental organisation (see Figure 1). The replies came from 22 EU Member States. Three companies from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) replied to the questionnaire. Some respondents registered in the EU are currently controlled by shareholders from non-EU countries. Some replies came from subsidiaries of the same economic group.  

The largest share of responses (48%) came from the large organisations (with 250 or more employees), followed by 9% from micro (1-9 employees), 7 % from medium (50 to 249 employees) and 6% from small (10 to 49 employees) organisations or enterprises (which includes public authorities).

Finally, it is worth noting that 27 respondents (among the companies/business organisations who replied) declare that their company has been designated as an operator with significant market power (SMP) in fixed or mobile call termination markets in at least one market in the EU, and 5 declare that they have not been designated as such.

Figure 1: Distribution of PC responses by type of respondent

Chart showing distribution of responses to consultation, as follows: 47.1% respondents were company/business organizations (in total 32 of them), 27.9% Eu citizens (19 in total), 13.2% public authorities (9 in total), 8.8% business associations (6 in total), 1.5% non-eu citizens (1 in total), 1.5% non-governmental organisations (1 in total)

Preliminary findings observed in the replies

Without prejudice to the in-depth analysis of the replies, we can observe the following overall trends.

Scope of application of the delegated act setting the Eurorates

In relation to the definition of the wholesale termination service proposed in the public consultation which is based on the 2009 Commission Recommendation on Termination Rates, the responses were mixed among companies/business organisations and public authorities, while it had broad support from citizens.

Exceptional circumstances and transitional period

The majority of public authorities consider that national circumstances would justify a necessary adjustment of the Eurorates (44% versus 22%).  The opinion is divided for company and business organisations and 45% of EU citizens consider that there are not such circumstances.

65% of the respondents are in favour of a transitional period to allow adjustments in the Member States (22% of respondents disagree). Regarding the applicability of the transitional period, almost half of all the respondents (47%) consider that it would be justified for countries where current termination rates are both above and below the Eurorates, 18% consider that it would be justified only for countries where current rates are above and 6% only for countries where current rates are below the Eurorates.

Non price-related obligations

In relation to non-price related obligations (in addition to the Eurorates) a majority of respondents said that the transparency (61%) and non-discrimination (58%) obligations would also need to be required. All public authorities consulted supported the transparency obligation and all but one the non-discrimination and access obligations.

Hybrid services

The survey gathered views in relation to so-called hybrid voice operators, which provide voice services that are neither only fixed nor only mobile.

71% of the respondents are aware of the presence of these operators in their countries. 29% declare that these operators are currently regulated as fixed operators in their countries while 3% submit that they are regulated as mobile operators.

23% of the respondents are in favour of classifying hybrid services, under the delegated act, either as fixed or mobile termination services according to the underlying network and 10% according to the rate applied to the underlying retail service. Additionally, 18% consider that these services should be treated as only fixed services, and 4% as only mobile services. The largest share of respondents (32%), however, support a different form of classification (such as a function the number involved).

Finally, it is worth mentioning that 22% of public authorities are in favour of treating the services as only fixed services, and 78% prefer a different form of classification, such as by the number - fixed or mobile - used by the service.

Others

31% of the respondents are of the view that Eurorates should only apply to intra-EU calls and, if they are extended to calls originated outside the EEA, it should be done on a reciprocity basis (terminates rates equivalent to the Eurorates are also applied outside the EEA. 10% of respondents do not share this view.

Next steps

The Commission is now carrying out a deeper analysis of the replies received. The results, which are non-binding for the Commission, will feed into the Commission's proposals and discussions on the preparation of the delegated act, in the course of 2020.

Consult the details of the replies (.xls)

Disclaimer: the views presented in this factual summary report are not the views of the European Commission but of the stakeholders that participated in this open public consultation.