Under the terms of its new statutes, approved by Decree-Law no. 309/2001 of 7 December and applied from the beginning of the year 2002, the ICP-Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ICP-ANACOM) must submit to the Government, also for presentation to Parliament, an annual report on its regulation activities as, for each fiscal year, it must also draw up a report on the situation of communications and its regulatory and supervision activity, which shall be released to the public and submitted to the member of government responsible for the sector.
The structure or model of the report that the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações must annually submit to Parliament, the Government and the public in general is based on integral reading of those two different statutory provisions. In the legal framework defined by the said provisions, which are complex with regard to powers and duties, and the integrated and harmonious understanding of their purpose, we understand that it is ICP-ANACOM?s task to draw up a single report on its regulation, supervision and sanction activities, as well as on the situation of communications.
On the basis of this understanding a decision was made to elaborate just one report, divided into four basic sections. The first covers the organisation of ICP-ANACOM; the second its activity in the areas of regulation, supervision and sanctions; the third describes action taken by the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações in pursuit of its other statutory provisions, namely within the scope of its power to advise and represent the communications sector; and the fourth deals with the communications sector. All legal injunctions on the matter are thus met, respecting good principles of economy of procedure and taking care to provide a full and integral overview of the large and complex range of attributions, powers and duties assigned to ICP-ANACOM.
This is the first regulation report drawn up by the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações under its modified legal framework, approved twenty years after it was established and which confer upon it the legal nature of a regulatory authority independent of the political domain, with its tangible action focused on defence of the general interest and of citizens/consumers. For this reason it is meant to be broad in scope, explanatory and informative and to clarify the regulatory activity prepared and exercised by ICP-ANACOM as per its normative, decision-making, arbitration, supervision, inspection, sanction, advisory, representation and radio spectrum management components. At substantive level it should thus serve as a reference for the improved versions to follow on an annual basis.
As this is the first regulation report the facts or acts described do not always solely involve the precise time period covered by the report. This is justified by the ever present concern to ensure maximum understanding of the measures adopted or the situation described.
This report contains indicators on activity in the telecommunications sector and in the postal sector, but not quantified forecasts on the future evolution of those sectors. Appropriate references are nevertheless made to orientations for ICP-ANACOM?s future activity in order to assure a regulatory environment that enables healthy and durable competition.
In the communications sector, as in the general economy, the year 2002 was not lacking in problems and reflected the hard effects of a slightly recessive situation, to wit, significant drops in investment and demand. Operators understandably worried about defending their market presence, which heightened tension between the historic operator and the entrants. It also gave rise to yet-to-be-realised merger plans and led to the postponement of important sector development projects.
At regulatory level, the year 2002 was marked by continued efforts to improve conditions to enable the new fixed network operators to access the historic operator?s fixed network. The aim was to reduce physical and financial barriers through lower interconnection and leased line prices, revision of the terms for local loop unbundling and pre-selection, and prevention of anti-competitive practices such as the achieved purpose of assuring the supply of ADSL services in a competitive environment, whose positive effects will be felt in the near future. In the postal sector, yet another step was taken towards the liberalisation thereof, as evidenced by the reduction in the range of services reserved for the historic operator.
The electronic communications regulatory framework is soon to change. Development of a competitive environment and the convergence phenomena have grounded the introduction of thorough changes in the legislative and regulatory regime still in force. Several European directives in an advanced state of transposition into the Portuguese legal order will reorient the regulator?s activities and provide it with new means to improve its efficacy and assure the existence and function of a stable and foreseeable regulatory framework, obviously without affecting the legitimacy and independence of ICP-ANACOM?s intervention.
Implementation of the new regulatory framework and the complex regulatory tasks associated thereto, along with establishment of an efficient system of collaboration with the Competition Authority and enhanced dialogue with operators, as part of the constant search for appropriate remedies to regulate markets, are the challenges appearing on the upcoming horizon.
One final note. The Board of Administration that undersigns this Regulation Report took office at the beginning of July 2002 and has pursued and broadened the regulatory action of ICP-ANACOM. The recognised competence of the services of this national authority has provided a most vital contribution to that end.
The Board of Administration
José Saraiva Mendes
Maria do Carmo Seabra