Commencement of procedure to prepare a regulation on the conditions governing the subassigment of E.164 resources of the NNP

Under the provisions of Articles 19 and 21 of the Lei das Comunicações Eletrónicas (Electronic Communications - Law 5/2004, of 10 February), as per the current amended version:

a) the offer of electronic communications networks and services in Portugal is free and only subject to the general authorisation scheme;

b) under this general authorisation scheme, access to the activity of offering electronic communications networks and services in Portugal does not depend on any decision or prior act of the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM);

c) however, companies wishing to offer electronic communications networks and services in Portugal are required to notify ANACOM in advance; and

d) after such communication, the companies may start their activity immediately, with the limitations resulting from the granting of frequency usage rights and numbers, where applicable.

Pursuant to Article 19 (3) and Article 36 (1) and (2), both of the same statute, the use of numbers depends, in all cases, on the granting, by ANACOM, of rights to use these numbers, following a request from the interested parties, and these rights may be granted either to companies providing electronic communications networks or services or to companies using such networks or services, in accordance with applicable law.

Pursuant to Article 17 (2) (b) and (c) of the same statute, in turn, ANACOM is responsible for managing the National Numbering Plan (NNP) according to the principles of transparency, efficacy, equality and non-discrimination, including the definition of the conditions for the assignment and use of national numbering resources, and the allocation of numbering resources by means of objective, transparent and non-discriminatory procedures.

Notwithstanding the general conditions governing the provision of electronic communications networks and services, pursuant to general law and Article 27 (1) of the Electronic Communications Law, rights to use numbers may only be subject to the conditions laid down in Article 37 of the same statute.

Currently, the assignment and use of numbering resources are still subject to the criteria and principles for the management and ssignment of numbering resources, approved by ANACOM by decision dated 2 June 1999.

In the exercise of its powers and, in particular, in the context of maintaining the register of companies that offer electronic communications networks and services, ANACOM has become aware of the intention of various companies to offer electronic communications services which, based, by agreement, on the networks and services already offered by other companies, would also make use of rights to use numbers owned by those companies.

In general, these companies would thus present themselves to their own customers as those that offer the service and that are accountable to them for its performance and quality, without those customers having any direct contractual relationship with the companies whose networks and services support their offers, and which own the rights to use the numbers concerned.

This business model allows market entry costs and the costs associated with the use of numbering resources to be lowered, and may be particularly suitable for companies with a small number of customers or a relatively small national scale and that therefore do not require a large amount1 of numbers.

However, this model does not conform to the current principles and criteria for the assignment of numbering resources, according to which only two types of numbering are defined, which essentially correspond to:

a) primary assignment2, by ANACOM, to the company offering the service; and

b) secondary assignment3, by the same company, which holds the rights to use numbers, to its own customers, i.e. to the end-users of its service.

In other words, and within the scope of its offer, a company cannot base the offer of its own service at retail level on the use of numbers for which usage rights have been granted by ANACOM to another company, regardless of whether or not such service is based on the wholesale offer of that same company.

In the same vein, this also means that a company that has rights to use numbers cannot secondarily assign numbers to customers of another company, as, under the law, it is solely responsible for complying with the conditions attached to such rights, including specific requirements associated with the provision of the service and, inter alia, obligations regarding portability and access to emergency services.

This framework, supported in particular by the principles applicable to the management of the National Numbering Plan, such as transparency, equality and non-discrimination, is also based on the premise that it should be the company that has the contractual relationship with the customers, the end-users of its services, that assigns numbers to those customers.

In this context, and whereas:

a) the ownership of rights to use numbers, by fulfilling the conditions associated with them, may constitute, under some business models, an inappropriate burden and a potential barrier to companies entering the market;

b) pursuant to Article 5 (1) (a) of the Electronic Communications Law, one of the objectives of regulation of electronic communications to be pursued by ANACOM is to promote competition in the provision of telecommunications networks and electronic communications services;

c) numbering, constituting a public resource managed by ANACOM, should not  in itself constitute an obstacle to the provision of electronic communications services on an equal basis, without prejudice to the rights and obligations of the parties involved and the information for the protection of subscribers and end-users; and

d) subassigment of numbering resources is already permitted and regulated in several EU Member States;

ANACOM believes that it should define the conditions governing the subassigment of E.164 resources4 of the NNP, in terms consistent with the current assignment model (i.e. with the aforementioned primary and secondary allocations, as currently provided for under the principles and criteria for the management and allocation of numbering resources), as commonly adopted by numbering plan managers, particularly in Europe.

This definition will not only boost competition in the provision of electronic communications networks and services and consumer freedom of choice, but will also make the regime applicable to companies offering networks and services based on E.164 resources of the NNP more transparent.

Thus, it is made public, under the terms and for the purposes provided for in Article 98 (1) of the Code of Administrative Procedure, that the Management Board of ANACOM, within the scope of the duties provided for in Article 8 (1) (a), (c), (d), (f) and (h) and in the exercise of the powers provided for in Article 9 (2) (a), Article 10 and Article 26 (1) (b), all of the ANACOM Charter, as approved by Decree-Law 39/2015, of 16 March, and in pursuit of the regulatory objectives set out in Article 5 (1) (a), (b) and (c), (2) (b) and (d), (3) (a) and (b) and (4) (g), and in accordance with Article 17 (2) (b), (c), (d) and (f), Article 37 (1) and (2) and Article 125 (1), all of the Electronic Communications Law, decided by determination of 17 October 2019 to initiate the procedure for drafting a regulation concerning the conditions governing the subassigment of E.164 resources of the NNP.

The purpose of this Regulation shall be, in particular:

a) The definition of the conditions governing the subassignment of E.164 resources of the National Numbering Plan, which have been primarily granted by ANACOM, by the company holding those rights to another company which, like the former, intends to offer electronic communications services associated with those resources; and

b) The definition of the conditions of use of E.164 resources of the National Numbering Plan that have been suballocated.

Interested parties may, within 20 working days of this publication5, send to ANACOM, via the email address, such contributions and suggestions as they believe should be considered in the preparation of this Regulation.

These contributions must be submitted in writing and in Portuguese. Information considered confidential should be indicated, and a redacted version should be presented with such information removed.

The interested parties may, at a later date, comment on the draft regulation to be submitted for public consultation, in accordance with Article 10 of the ANACOM Charter, by publication on the ANACOM website (www.anacom.pt and in the 2nd Series of the Diário da República.

1 Geographic and mobile numbers are allocated in blocks of 10,000 numbers.
2 Primary Assignment: “Granting of numbering resources by the ICP [ICP-ANACOM, currently] operators of public telecommunications networks and providers of telecommunications services for public use, hereinafter referred to as operators and providers“, under the terms laid down in the principles and criteria for the management and assignment of numbering resources.
3 Secondary Assignment: “Subsequent assignment of a primary assignment performed by operators or providers to their customers in the normal use of resources allocated by the ICP [currently, ICP-ANACOM]”, under the terms laid down in the principles and criteria for the management and assignment of numbering resources.
4 As per recommendation E.164 of the ITU-T.
5 Until 25 November 2019.