Law no 31/2007, published on 10 August, has given approval to the Major Planning Options for 2008. These are comprised within Portugal's strategy of economic and social development, as defined in the Programme of the XVII Constitutional Government, in the Major Planning Options for 2005-2009, in the National Action Plan for Growth and Employment (Plano Nacional de Acção para o Crescimento e Emprego (PNACE) in the Stability and Growth Plan (Plano de Estabilidade e Crescimento (PEC) and in the National Strategic Reference Framework (Quadro de Referência Estratégico Nacional (QREN).
The Major Planning Options of 2008 present the state of implementation of government action in 2006-7 and the actions that are to be implemented in 2008, with measures at a sectoral level contained within the first and third options of the Plan.
With regard to the first option - Ensure a sustainable growth trajectory, built upon knowledge, innovation and human resource qualification - the 2008 Options put forward various measures with respect to the information society (IS), including most importantly:
- Expansion and consolidation of the network of internet access points providing free public access to computers and broadband internet, pursuing the policies of digital inclusion through programmes supporting the participation of citizens with special needs;
- Tax benefits for computer acquisition by students and the IS patronage regime;
- To create and promote the use of new services and contents, via the internet, including those connected to public risks, the environment, food safety, health and internal security;
- Strengthening of b-On, integrated with the national system of scientific and technical publication indexing (web of knowledge) and promoting open access to scientific information; and
- Continuing the Forum for the IS as a body for consultation and a driver behind the development of public policy in this area.
With regard to the third option - Improve quality of life and strengthen territorial coercion in a sustainable development framework - the following actions connected to the communications sector are set out:
- Strengthening mechanisms for the protection of consumers of electronic communication services;
- Setting out guidelines to preside over radio spectrum policy (including a reassessment of the applicable tariff scheme);
- Definition of conditions of access to the universal service of electronic communications (including the designation of its providers); and
- Transposition of the new European framework of electronic communications.
As far as new services/ new technologies are concerned, reference is made that conditions for the introduction of mobile television (DVB-H) in the national territory are being put in place, along with conditions for the provision of a mobile and data network with levels of quality on Alfa trains and for the generalisation of payments by mobile phone (2nd half of 2007). Furthermore, regulatory measures are being implemented that consubstantiate technological neutrality, eliminating barriers to the development of new technologies, specifically in electronic communications through VoIP.
In 2008 a guarantee will be sought for the offer of commercial terrestrial digital television (TDT) and mobile television, as well as creating conditions which ensure a cost for the use of integrated communication systems that is below the European average.
With respect to postal services, conditions will be put in place for the launch of the Banco Postal (Postal Bank) of CTT.
The third option also encompasses the area of consumer protection, with a strategy for 2008 that sets out to create awareness among public and private bodies of the creation of national, alternative systems of out-of-court conflict resolution and /or specialised competence.