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Law no. 91/97, of 1 of August01.08.1997
Published in D.R. number 176 (Series I-A) of 1 August 1997
Assembleia da República (Assembly of the Republic)
(This is not an official translation of the law)
Defines the General Bases that regulate the Establishment, Management and Exploitation of Telecommunications Networks and the Provision of Telecommunications Services.
Object and scope
1. The object of this law is the definition of the general bases that regulate the establishment, management and exploitation of telecommunications networks and the provision of telecommunications services.
2. The contents of this law do not apply to the broadcasting telecommunications services.
Definitions and classifications
1. Telecommunications means the transmission, reception or broadcast of signals, representing symbols, writing, pictures, sounds or information of any nature through wires, optic systems, radio means and other electromagnetic systems.
2. Telecommunications are classified as follows:
a) public use telecommunications: those destined to the general public;
b) private telecommunications: those destined to own use or to a limited number of users.
3. Both public use and private telecommunications are subdivided into:
a) addressed telecommunications: those where the information is merely sent to one or more pre-determined recipients through addressing, either through two-way communications or not;
b) broadcast telecommunications: those that are merely performed one way, simultaneously to various reception points and without previous addressing.
4. By telecommunications services it is understood the form and manner of the routing exploitation and, or, distribution of information through the telecommunications networks.
5. The telecommunications services are classified as follows:
a) Public use telecommunications services: those destined to the general public;
b) Private telecommunications services: those destined to own use or to a limited number of users.
6. Both the public use and private telecommunications services are subdivided into:
a) addressed telecommunications services: those that imply previous addressing;
b) broadcasting telecommunications service: those where communication is made in one way, simultaneously to various reception points and without previous addressing;
7. Telecommunications networks mean the set of physical means, called infrastructures, or electromagnetic means that support the transmission, reception or broadcast of signals.
8. Telecommunications networks are divided into:
a) public telecommunications networks: those that support, in full or in part, public use telecommunications services;
b) private telecommunications networks: those that merely support private telecommunications services.
9. Interconnection means the physical and logical connection between the telecommunications networks used by a single or various operators, so as to allow the access and the communications between the different users of the services provided.
Public radioelectric domain
The space through which the radioelectric waves can be propagated makes up the public radioelectric domain, whose management, administration and inspection are the responsibility of the State, under the terms of the law.
It is allowed, under the terms of the law, the expropriation and constitution of administrative rights of way that are indispensable to the construction and radio protection of the installations necessary to the inspection of the use of the radio spectrum, as well as to the installation, protection and maintenance of the infrastructures of the public telecommunications networks.
1. It is the States duty the definition of the strategic guidelines and the general policies, the approval of the applicable legislation to the sector, the supervision and inspection of telecommunications and of the activity of the telecommunications operators.
2. Within the carrying out of the States responsibilities, it is the duty of the Instituto das Comunicações de Portugal as the sector s regulatory entity and, without prejudice of other duties under the law,:
a. the management of the radioelectric spectrum and of the orbital positions;
b. the normalization, approval and certification of the telecommunications equipment and materials, according to the applicable legislation;
c. the inspection of the telecommunications and of the compliance with the respective legal and regulatory provisions concerning the activity, as well as the application of the corresponding sanctions;
d. the definition of the conditions of interconnection of public use telecommunications services and networks exploited by operators holding a significant position in the markets.
Coordination of telecommunications in emergency situations
It is the State s responsibility to ensure, under the terms of the law, the appropriate coordination of the telecommunications services and networks in situations of emergency, crisis or war.
Concerning the telecommunications services
Telecommunications services of public use
It is established the principle of telecommunications liberalization, to be carried out according to the applicable legislation.
Telecommunications universal service
1. It is the State's responsibility to ensure the existence and availability of the telecommunications universal service, understood as the set of specific duties inherent to the provision of addressed public use telecommunications services, aiming at meeting the communication needs of the population and economic and social activities in all the national territory, in an equitable and continuous manner and through appropriate remuneration conditions, bearing in mind the demands of a harmonic and balanced economic and social development.
2. Concerning the terms of the previous paragraph, it is ensured the provision, in terms of universal service, of a fixed telephone service, which can be exploited:
a. by the State;
b. by a public corporate body;
c. by a private corporate body, through contract.
3. The contract that is referred to in subparagraph c) of the previous paragraph takes the form of lease when in the cases where it is also included the establishment, management and exploitation of the infrastructures that make up the basic telecommunications network referred to in article 12.
4. The obligation referred to in the previous paragraph can also include, under the terms of the law and of the lease contract, the provision of a switched data transmission service and of a leased circuits service or of other services.
Costs of the universal service
1. The public telecommunications networks operators and the providers of public use telecommunications services of voice transportation shall participate in the costs of the universal service, under the terms to be established in a developing diploma of this law.
2. The costs referred to in the previous paragraph are those deriving from the provision of the fixed telephone service and of its supporting network
1. It is ensured the existence of a national numbering plan, under the terms to be established in a developing diploma of this law, which ensures full interoperability of public telecommunications networks and public use telecommunications services, as well as the progressive implementation of the portability of the customer's number.
2. The granting processes of numbers or series of numbers shall comply with the principles of transparency, equity and efficacy.
Concerning telecommunications networks
Public telecommunications networks
1. It is free the establishment, management, exploitation and use of public telecommunications networks.
2. The establishment, management, exploitation and use of public telecommunications networks may only be conditioned by radio spectrum limitations, the availability of sufficient numbers and for security reasons and public order.
3. The conditions for the establishment, management, exploitation and use of the public telecommunications networks shall be defined in a developing diploma of this law.
Basic telecommunications network
1. It is the State's responsibility to ensure the existence, availability and quality of an addressed, public telecommunications network, called basic network, which covers the communication needs of the citizens and of the social and economic activities within the national territory and ensures international connections, bearing in mind the requirements of a harmonic and balanced social and economic development.
2. The basic telecommunications network is made up by the fixed subscriber access system, the transmission network and the concentration, switching or processing nodes, when allocated to the provision of the fixed telephone service referred to in article 8.
3. Concerning the terms of the previous paragraph, the following concepts apply:
a. fixed subscriber access system - the set of transmission means that are between one fixed point, at the level of physical connection to the subscriber terminal equipment and another point, located at the level of the physical connection in the first concentration, switching or processing node;
b. transmission network - the set of physical or radio means which establish the connections for the transportation of information between the concentration, switching or processing nodes;
c. concentration, switching or processing nodes - any device or system that routes or processes the information whose origin or destination is the subscriber system.
4. The basic telecommunications network should work as an open network, serving as a support to the transmission of the services in general, and all telecommunications operators under fair competition conditions should ensure its use.
5. The basic telecommunications network is an asset that belongs to the State's public domain, and can be allocated, under the terms of the law, to an operator of the universal service.
6. It is ensured the development and modernization of the basic telecommunications network, in accordance with the territory organization plan and the needs of the citizens in terms of security and civil protection.
Exemption from fees
The basic telecommunications network operators are exempt from paying fees or any other charges, for the construction of the infrastructures or for the passage of the different installation or equipment parts that are necessary for the exploitation of the object of the respective network's lease.
Private telecommunications networks
1. The conditions for the establishment and use of private telecommunications networks shall be established in a developing diploma of this law.
2. The private networks of the armed forces and security and emergency services and forces are subject to specific legislation.
1. It is ensured the interconnection through the basic telecommunications network.
2. The interconnection shall also be ensured through networks of operators holding significant positions in the market, according to criteria to be defined in the diploma referred to in paragraph 4.
3. It is free to make interconnection agreements between public telecommunications networks operators and/or addressed public use telecommunications services providers.
4. The interconnection rights and duties of certain determined categories of network operators or telecommunications services providers shall be established in a developing diploma of this law.
Protection of competition
1. Any and all acts that distort the competitive conditions or that translate into abuse of dominant position are prohibited to the telecommunications networks operators and telecommunications services providers.
2. The universal service operators should ensure the use of their networks by all the telecommunications networks operators and telecommunications services providers.
Right to the use of the telecommunications services
1. It is granted to all the right of using the public use telecommunications services, through the payment of the corresponding prices and tariffs, as long as the applicable, legal and regulatory provisions are complied with.
2. It is ensured the inviolability and confidentiality of the public use telecommunications services, under the terms of the law, with the limits imposed by their nature and purpose.
3. The approval of the regulations of the exploitation of the telecommunications services provided in terms of universal service shall be preceded by the hearing of the organizations that represent the consumers, as a measure of protection of the users' rights.
4. The consumers may control the billing corresponding to the use of the telecommunications services provided in terms of universal service, under the terms to be established in the respective exploitation regulations.
It is free the connection of duly certified terminal equipment to the public telecommunications networks, according to the legally established conditions, bearing in mind the safeguard of the integrity of those telecommunications networks and the appropriate interoperability of the services.
General principles for the establishment of tariffs and prices
1. It is established the principle of liberalization of the tariffs and prices of the telecommunications services.
2. Without prejudice of the terms of the previous paragraph, the price regime for the universal telecommunications service is subject to specific legislation.
Final and interim provisions
Concerning the provision of the fixed telephone service, as well as the installation, establishment and exploitation of its supporting telecommunications networks, the principles of this law shall be applied as of January 2000
Safeguard of the acquired rights
1. The legal regime approved in the development of law no. 88/89 of September 11, shall remain effective until the developing diplomas of this law take effect.
2. The activity licensing, authorization, lease and sublease documents granted under the legal and regulatory regimes approved as a development of Law no. 88/89 of September 11 shall remain effective without prejudice of the alterations that come to be determined by the developing diplomas of this law.
It is hereby cancelled Law no. 88/89 of September 11.
Approved on 3 July 1997.
The President of the Assembly of the Republic, António de Almeida Santos.
Promulgated on 18 July 1997.
Let it be published.
The President of the Republic JORGE SAMPAIO.
Counter-signed on 24 July 1997.
The Prime Minister, in exercise, António Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino.
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