The Major Planning Options for 2005-2009 (GOP) define five main options for the Government’s policy: to assure a path of sustained growth based on knowledge, innovation and human resource qualification; to strengthen cohesion, reducing poverty and creating more equal opportunities; to improve the quality of life and to strengthen territorial cohesion in a framework of sustained development; to raise the quality of democracy, modernizing the political system and placing justice and security at the service of full citizenship; to leverage Portugal’s external positioning and to build a defence policy suited to the country’s international integration.
Information society, electronic communications and postal services are dealt with on the first and third options. Consumer protection is also referred in the scope of the third option.
In the scope of the information society, the following action lines stand out: to promote the general use of Internet by citizens, companies, public and private institutions; to generalize broadband access to the whole of the national territory by means of a competitive market, namely at the local loop level; and to open the public telecommunications markets and guarantee the independence of the industry’s regulatory authority. These are considered priority conditions aimed at stimulating competition and at fostering a fast and sustained growth.
The goal is to promote the availability of broadband to the final user, in better conditions, by means of greater competition in the DSL and cable offer, as well as to explore alternative or complementary technologies, such as wireless access and, possibly, the electric power network.
The promotion of investment efficiency and of business dynamics also depends on stimulating competition, which will require an independent, strong and effective regulation, the reinforcement of resources and the improvement of the regulatory authorities’ powers of intervention.
For this period, the following purposes have been defined for the communications sector: to foster the introduction of new wireless services, such as terrestrial digital television, through an efficient and dynamic radio spectrum management; to promote the use of advanced logical platforms and to foster the generalized access of all State services to broadband networks; to alter and adjust postal services to competition and to a market that is opened to private agents; to broaden the range of postal services and to assure the complete and efficient coverage of the national territory and of the consumers’ needs; and to develop a framework of strategic partnerships set to support, in the long run, the quality and modernity of postal services.
Regarding consumer protection, the purposes defined include the reinforcement of telecommunication service’s consumer protection and the right to be informed, among others.
In order to achieve these purposes, the Government identified several concrete measures to be developed in 2005-2006.
The following measures stand out in the scope of electronic communications:
- to stimulate technological breakthroughs that might contribute to roll-out additional access alternatives and to generalize the use of “Broadband”;
- to assure the listing and recording of electronic communications infrastructures;
to guarantee the access of service providers to the existing public electronic communications infrastructures, thereby promoting the efficient use of networks;
- to close and evaluate the regulatory and instrumental measures needed for the full application of the Electronic Communications Law (Law no. 5/2004, of 10 February);
- to incentive the development of new offers, such as with terrestrial digital television (TDT);
- to evaluate on a regular basis the need to update the scope and how the universal service is provided;
- to promote the efficient management of scarce resources, in particular of the radio spectrum, re-evaluating the applicable tariffs;
- to define, together with the industries involved, the development strategy for terrestrial digital audio broadcasting (T-DAB), taking its evolution since launch into account;
- to reinforce the activity of market monitoring, by means of adopting a broader and more proactive model of supervision, in the interest of users.
In the framework of postal services, highlight should be made to the following concrete measures to be adopted in the same period:
- to assure the gradual and controlled process of liberalization of postal services (in 2009) in connection with the universal service;
- to stimulate innovation and the offer of new services, according to the needs of consumers;
- to assure the provision of universal service and the fulfilment of the associated obligations;
- to reinforce the activity of market monitoring, by means of adopting a broader and more pro-active model of supervision and of assuring quality services to consumers;
- to promote initiatives in publicizing, informing and educating users.
In the scope of consumer protection, the Government foresees the consideration of the possibility of assessing the existence of situations that might be harmful to the interests of telecommunications service consumers, in cooperation with ANACOM. It also intends to effectively compare prices and conditions among the several tariffs in force.
These Major Planning Options were approved by the National Parliament on 28 July and published as an annex to Law no. 52/2005, of 31 August.