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ANACOM establishes a framework for MVNO activity
ANACOM - National Communications Authority has decided to detail the regulatory framework for the activity of mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), thus rendering the regulation transparent and foreseeable, in order to guarantee that the desirable entry of MVNOs in the market and the attached contestability increase are more effective.
As the assessment of the market for call access and origination in public mobile telephone networks (market 15) has not been yet concluded, and thus operators with significant market power in this market have not been yet identified at present mobile operators are not under any regulatory obligation to provide third parties with wholesale access to their networks. Nevertheless, the regulatory framework in force covers in an appropriate manner the activity of MVNOs that arise following a desirable freedom to deal between entities who wish to pursue this activity and mobile operators who support their services over their own radio networks.
There are many economic operations which can be included under the designation MVNO, as they have in common the fact that they do not resort to rights of use for frequencies and are not provided with their own radio access network infrastructures, being thus supported on radio means leased from network operators who hold the respective rights of use.
The concept of MVNO implies a direct contractual relationship between the MVNO and the end customer, which is attached to the service provision, and for this reason this concept does not include service distribution activities, where the contractual relationship is established between the end customer and the mobile network operator.
Accordingly, MVNOs are entities with direct customers, which means they are exclusively responsible for the relationship with end users, directly ensuring towards the latter and towards ICP-ANACOM, the compliance with specific user and subscriber protection rules applicable to the electronic communications sector, such as portability, use of standard contracts approved by the regulatory authority and provision of customer support services, including the provision of information and handling of complaints, billing and collection.
Additionally, MVNOs design and place in the market their own retail offer, which may freely differ from that of the operator on whose network they are supported, and define their own business strategies.
Although all MVNOs share the above-mentioned features, there are different types of operations which may fall under the MVNO category, according to how many systems and own infrastructures are used. A light MVNO has a few or none communications network infrastructure elements, yet it ensures the means that enable the control of the relationship with the customer. This type of operation ranges from a simpler version, where own SIM cards are not issued, although proprietary platforms for value added services, billing and CRM may be deployed, enabling the control of the relationship with the end customer, to more complex versions, in which case the autonomy towards the MNO increases, as the MVNO additionally issues its own SIM cards and operates some elements of the network infrastructure.
A full MVNO holds, in addition to the particulars of a light MVNO, several elements of the transmission system and network infrastructure, including exchanges. It may also issue its own SIM cards. A full MVNO fails only to hold the right of use for frequencies, and, as such, it does not have the elements of radio access infrastructure (such as base stations or network controllers), in contrast with a MNO.
These are the basic MVNO models, and network operators and interested entities are free to establish the model that best adapts to their specific interests and business strategy.
MVNO must notify the regulatory authority of the commencement of activity
All entities who wish to pursue an activity which could come under the concept of MVNO, must notify the regulatory authority of the commencement of such activity. For this purpose, it is not necessary for it to have established an agreement with a network operator holding rights of use for radio frequencies, allowing for the provision of retail mobile telephone services.
In their notification to the regulatory authority, MVNOs (whether the activity they pursue is deemed as a provision of a network and services or merely as a provision of services) must include a short description of the network or service they wish to provide and to notify an estimated date for starting the activity. Upon receipt of notification, ANACOM shall issue a declaration describing the rights in matters of access and interconnection and, where appropriate, of instalment of resources. This is the so-called general authorization scheme.
According to the need demonstrated, MVNOs may be granted rights of use for numbers.
Such numbers include mobile network identification numbers, subject to the following criteria: existence of a network requiring the identification of own mobile terminals or others (roaming); existence of a network or equipment that use protocols established in the scope of GSM/UMTS standards to render compatible and ensure the interoperability of services to the end-user.
Numbers intended for the provision of publicly available mobile telephone services. In this case, the requiring entity may be allocated blocks of numbers within the '9' numbering level; short numbers within the 16 and 18 ranges, respectively comprising customer support services and enquiry services - other directories, allocated according to the MVNO preferences and number availability, for each range; and numbers for the provision of non geographic numbers, among others.
Attached to the grant of rights of use for '9' numbers for the provision of mobile telephone services, the rights of use for numbers in the '609' and '669' ranges (starting at '6092' and '6692') for the consultation and storage of messages, and in the '639' and '659' ranges (starting at '6392' and '6592') for fax and data services, are implicitly granted as well, as they correspond to the rights of use of granted mobile numbers.
MVNO are not subject to the payment of spectrum fees
Regardless of their type, MVNOs do not hold rights of use for frequencies for the provision of mobile telephone services; accordingly, they are not subject to the payment of fees for spectrum use. These fees must be paid by the mobile network operator, taking into account, in the current model, the element concerning base stations and the one concerning all mobile stations (terminal stations) supported on its network. In case the MNO hosts one or several MVNOs, and even if the latter are network operators, it shall calculate not only the terminal equipment engaged in its own network, but also the remaining terminal equipment involved in MVNO operations and which are supported on its network.
MVNOs may invoke the obligation to negotiate interconnection, and remaining mobile and fixed operators must ensure service interoperability under the law.
Regulatory framework for the activity of MVNOs http://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=457406
Consultation on the draft decision on the results of the audit to PTC's universal service net costs (2007-2009) - comments until 22.05.2013
ANACOM Conference 2013 - Financing the future, 01.07.2013
World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), Geneva, 2-27.11.2015
Positions, clarifications and statements issued by ANACOM between 2004 and 2013
Access the services which we provide electronically
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