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ANCOM: The Infrastructure Law Must Be Applied Coherently!

In connection with several incidents where certain local authorities started decommissioning aerial networks before the subterranean alternative was available, ANCOM issued the following statement:

“It is worrying that although an effective legislative instrument for the development of the communications infrastructure, namely Law no. 159/2016 on the physical infrastructure of electronic communications networks, was created with sustained efforts, we find ourselves today in critical situations where users no longer have access to telephony or internet services due to forced interventions. I reiterate that both the public authorities and the communications operators have at their disposal the legal framework within which they act and I urge them to understand and to translate into practice their legal rights and obligations . ANCOM will continue to get involved in ensuring the good functioning of the market, we will continue to issue the necessary secondary legislation and inform all the actors involved in its application, “said Sorin Grindeanu, president of ANCOM.

Applying the Infrastructure Law

In line with the European regulatory framework for electronic communications, the provision of electronic communications networks is freely available on the basis of the general authorization regime.

In cases where public authorities have developed, either individually or in public-private partnerships, underground infrastructure for the installation of electronic communications networks, the migration of communication networks to the underground infrastructure must be done according to a schedule agreed between operators and local authorities based on a resettlement plan which should be considered when developing the underground infrastructure, thus allowing a realistic scheduling of the necessary activities for migrating the networks.

In situations where there is no underground alternative that could be used by the providers of electronic communications networks for the underground migration of installed aerial networks, ANCOM encourages and supports, through its legal instruments, the active involvement of local authorities in building these alternative underground infrastructures, measures that could ensure both the community’s urban planning objectives and the possibility of carrying out activities that could generate revenues to the local budget. The activities related to the underground migration of an aerial electronic communications network are not achieved by reuse of existing cables and equipment, it requires good planning, assuming the installation of a totally new network. They include, besides the installation works for which the building permit is required, the design of both the physical infrastructure (piping, drawing rooms) and the actual network of electronic communications (cables, equipment), the evaluation and acquisition of the the necessary infrastructure and network, their transport and installation in the field, the carrying out of tests and measurements, and finally the commissioning of the new underground network segment, prior to the decommissioning of the aerial network, in order to preserve the continuity of services.

Measures to dismantle the aerial networks, with the interruption of the provision of communications services to end-users, can not, in our opinion, constitute a sustainable approach, including in relation to the major interests of local communities. We must remember that easy access to electronic communications is the basis of all sectors of a modern and innovative economy, contributing to the improvement of the quality of public services, especially education, health or local government. We, at ANCOM, have expressed our willingness to mediate a dialogue between local authorities and operators in order to find the right solutions for both parties, so the impact of network transition to underground infrastructure is minimal on end-users”, the ANCOM’s president added.

It is especially important that there is a certain balance between the application of urban planning rules and the promotion of competition, to support the development of new physical infrastructure for electronic communications networks and services and, at the same time, to ensure the observance of urban development regulations.

ANCOM considers the collaboration between local public authorities and the providers of electronic communications networks as being useful and absolutely necessary, in order to develop the underground infrastructures on areas as extended as possible within the municipalities and towns, as well as to ensure the easiest migration of the aerial networks to underground ducts, in order to improve the urban aspect, to stimulate the socioeconomic development and to increase the citizens’ quality of life.

Law no. 159/2016 on the Physical Infrastructure Regime of Electronic Communications Networks stipulates that the entities exercising the right of administration over the public property, including the authorities of the central or local public administration, have the obligation to publish the conditions for access to these properties, including the maximum tariffs be perceived to providers of electronic communications networks for this access. Detailed information on the provisions of the Infrastructure Law, as well as ANCOM’s decision on the maximum access charges on public property, approvals and approvals issued for infrastructure networks developed by some local authorities, conditions for access to public property of the state or of the administrative-territorial units and many other specific information is available on ANCOM’s website here .

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