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Regulation of new telecommunications law should take a year

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Marcos Pontes, ministro da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (MCTIC) (Foto: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil)

Marcos Pontes, Minister of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC) (Photo: Valter Campanato / Agência Brasil)

The federal government held today (10) ceremony for the sanction of Law No. 13,879 of 2019, which amends the telecommunications legislation in Brazil. According to the minister of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC), Marcos Pontes, the regulation of the new Telecommunications Legal Framework of the country should take about a year. “It has already been done by Anatel (National Telecommunications Agency). About a year for us to have it complete, ”he projected.

The portfolio holder's prediction is important, as this detail of the rules will define whether the predictions of the Act will actually be met, and how this process will take place. The Law opened the possibility for fixed-line concessionaires (such as Oi, Vivo Fixo and Embratel / Net) to change the form of the contract with the state to operate the service to a model with fewer obligations, called authorization (see below).

Should one or more companies choose to migrate, the balance between revenues in this year's old and new operating model until the end of the concession (2019-2025) would be reversed in investments in network expansion and Internet access service offering. . The regulation will thus determine how the account will be made (and therefore the amount of investments). According to Anatel, a consultancy will be hired to propose a method to develop this calculation. However, there is no established schedule for this measure.

The valuation of the balance is, however, shrouded in imbroglio. This is because a lawsuit was filed questioning the fact that Anatel did not supervise the management of assets deriving from the Telebrás System, privatized in 1998, obtained by the concessionaires, which would have resulted in the disregard of this equity.

In a ruling last month, the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) presented a series of determinations to the Agency to map these assets, which may impact the calculation of the contract revenue balance. In this scenario, Pontes assessed that there would be no risks to the process of elaborating the calculations. "It (the ruling) has been dealt with by Anatel, a series of requests and requests to Anatel, but that has no immediate impact on that," added the MCTIC holder.

The most quoted promise by lawmakers in defending the Law is that the regulation will also list the criteria that will be adopted to guide companies in the direction of these resources and the discipline of these investments. In the Senate approval process, several lawmakers demanded that priority be given to underserved or poorly covered areas, especially in the North and Northeast.

This emphasis was cited as justification for opposition groups not voting against the then project and securing its approval with a large majority. Minister Marcos Pontes added that these claims would be taken into consideration when drafting investment criteria and rules, but did not detail how these would be operationalized.

“There are some conversations going on. This regulation will happen by prioritizing areas that are, let's say, dark, erased. We have a big job ahead, we have to take into account also the opinions of the Congress, which worked so hard on it. This work will be done, mainly to bring connection, information to the less privileged regions ”, commented the holder.

Understand the changes
Under the Telecommunications Law, companies that have acquired the right to exploit the infrastructure of the old Telebrás System's networks at the time of privatization may move to a regime with fewer obligations. The current concession agreements, which would run until 2025, may, at the company's request, migrate to authorizations. As a result, they will no longer be subject to State controls in the so-called “public regime” category, such as universalization targets, continuity obligations and tariff control.

The concessionaires that opt ​​for the transition (Oi, Vivo Fixo, Embratel / Net, Sercomtel and Algar) will be calculated by the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) to assess the difference between the revenues they will receive in the new modality and those they would earn. if the concession is maintained. Within this are involved the networks operated by these companies in the provision of the service, whose values ​​vary.

The matter also removes the Union's responsibility for essential telecommunications services, which may be provided privately. Currently, only fixed telephony meets this condition, but the General Telecommunications Law (No. 9472/1997) granted the Executive the power to include other services in this category, which would imply obligations of the public regime.

Another change is to give companies that exploit frequency bands (“spaces” in the electromagnetic spectrum used, for example, for radio and TV signal transmission, mobile telephony, satellite services and mobile internet) the right to market “parts” these bands, creating what has been called the “secondary spectrum market”. The company pays for the exploration and may do business with part of this "space".

While telecommunication companies celebrated the passage of the Law by reducing obligations on fixed-line services and being able to redirect balances to investments in Internet access, civil society organizations questioned the changes by a number of criticisms, such as the fact that disregarding reversible assets, withdrawing requirements for essential services, providing for authorizations for the service to be automatically renewed and the absence of clear criteria for the destination of investments.

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