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Commission proposes definition of universal service for telecommunications

The European Commission, on the initiative of Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for telecommunications, and in cooperation with Mr. Karel van Miert, Commissioner responsible for competition, has put forward a proposal for a European Directive on open network provi...
The European Commission, on the initiative of Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for telecommunications, and in cooperation with Mr. Karel van Miert, Commissioner responsible for competition, has put forward a proposal for a European Directive on open network provision (ONP) in voice telephony.

The draft Directive proposes revisions to an existing EU Directive on ONP (No 95/62/EC) in view of the forthcoming full liberalization of the telecommunications market as of 1 January 1998. The Commission's proposal lays down guidelines for a basic telephone service accessible to all (universal service).

The basic telephone service would include a normal telephone line, directories and directory enquiry services, public pay-telephones and, where appropriate, special services for disabled users and other special social groups. These should all be available at affordable prices. Additional facilities to be provided include itemized billing, selective call-barring and tone dialling (to make use of services such as reservation systems and home banking). Mobile phone services are not included as part of the basic universal telephone service.

Consumer protection measures are included in the proposed Directive, and would apply to all publicly-available, fixed telephone networks, including those offered by cable television companies. From 1 January 1998, all newly installed network connections would have to be capable of carrying advanced information services, with transmission rates of at least 14,400 bits per second. Certain regulatory provisions, including those relating to tariffs would apply only to existing operators, and would be phased out as competitive intensifies.
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