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OPTA's Focus on 2009: Reducing internet and telephone nuisances, stimulating more competition on the cable and business markets

On January 8th, OPTA, the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands, published its Focus on 2009. In it the regulator sets out the eight areas on which it will be focusing its operations in 2009. By doing so OPTA will ensure that competition and confidence will prevail in the communications sector in the interests of consumers. OPTA seeks to prevent market parties from breaking the law, for example, by providing information or guidance in relation to compliance programmes. In addition, OPTA closely monitors market parties to determine whether they are complying with their obligations and it punishes infringements. Infringements for which consumers ultimately pay in the form of high (excessively or otherwise) prices and insufficient choice. Moreover, in 2009 OPTA will ensure that there is greater competition in the business market for telephone and data services. When it comes to the regulation of fiber optic networks OPTA will ensure that both innovation and competition are promoted. In addition, OPTA will be opening the television cables belonging to UPC and Ziggo. As a result consumers will have a greater choice of cable packages and a larger range of triple play options in the future. Finally, OPTA will protect consumers, amongst other things, by providing information through ConsuWijzer and taking action in response to complaints which consumers submit through this information portal. In 2009 OPTA will be focusing mainly on unwelcome telemarketing calls, the misuse of paid information services, and on internet safety. What will be new in this respect is the protection of businesses from spam.

Chris Fonteijn, OPTA’s chairman, has this to say about 2009:
"In the year ahead we will be focusing on reducing nuisance occasioned through the internet and telephone. On the other hand, business users must be able to derive greater benefits from competition in 2009. OPTA is creating the conditions necessary for making efficient investments in fiber optic networks and providing access to the cable networks belonging to UPC and Ziggo. It is now up to the market parties to utilise these conditions."

OPTA will be devoting attention to the following matters in 2009:
1. Prevention of contraventions – OPTA will be presenting an initial report of its findings concerning the structure and operation of KPN’s compliance programme;
2. Encouraging investments in fiber optic networks – OPTA will be setting the final tariffs and conditions for access to the fiber optic network belonging to KPN and Reggefiber, and will be closely monitoring them to ascertain whether they are effective;
3. More competition in the business market – OPTA will be setting out conditions and tariffs based on which KPN’s competitors can have access to its network, and it will be closely monitoring whether KPN complies with its tougher obligations;
4. Greater choice via television cable – OPTA will be outlining the range through which entrants will gain access to the cable networks belonging to UPC and Ziggo. In this respect arrangements will be made in relation to switching, lead times, cancellation conditions and tariffs;
5. Reasonable tariffs for calls in Europe – OPTA will be examining whether mobile phone service providers will be reducing their tariffs further on 30 August 2009 for calls made in Europe. In addition, OPTA will be monitoring whether consumers receive an SMS message setting out the relevant charges, as soon as they cross the border;
6. Reducing irritation caused by unwelcome telemarketing calls – from 1 July 2009 OPTA will be able to use the legally stipulated telephone preference register to check whether those consumers who have registered not to receive telemarketing calls are actually no longer ca


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