The publication of Law no. 255/2023 for the amendment of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 111/2011 on electronic communications in the Official Gazette, Part I no. 678 of July 24, 2023, marks a significant step towards enhancing the electronic communications landscape in Romania. Set to come into force on July 27, 2023, this law aims to amend and supplement existing regulations to provide clearer definitions, responsibilities, guidelines, and regulations for both electronic communications service customers and providers. Notably, it addresses the issue of inadvertent roaming, which occurs when consumers use their mobile devices near the border of a neighboring country and unintentionally connect to a foreign network, leading to unexpected roaming charges.
Key Points of the Law:
- Expanded Definitions: The law broadens the definitions of “user” and “subscriber” to encompass not only natural persons (individuals) and legal entities but also economic enterprises without legal personality.
- Adherence to BEREC Guidelines: The National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications of Romania (ANCOM) is mandated to follow the guidelines issued by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Any deviations from these guidelines must be duly motivated.
- Identification of Risk Areas: ANCOM is obligated to publish a list of areas with a risk of involuntary roaming every three years. It is further required to inform all local public administration authorities about the publication of this list. In response, road administrators must install warning signs in these areas to alert users to the potential risk of involuntary roaming.
- Regulating Transmission Services and Radio Frequencies: The law introduces obligations for contracts related to transmission services used for providing services between devices. Additionally, it establishes a provision for monitoring radio frequencies. Furthermore, ANCOM is entrusted with the task of informing the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) about any draft measures concerning the use of radio frequencies.
- Enforcement and Communication of Fines: The law outlines a clear process for addressing fines, which includes sending notifications to the individuals in question, providing them with a deadline to express their viewpoint, and detailing the fines that can be imposed by ANCOM’s control staff. Moreover, provisions are made for the use of electronic forms for fines and sanctions, along with defining the method for communication and enforcement of those.
- Application of Provisions to Electronic Communications Networks: Law no. 255/2023 extends its provisions to construction works concerning electronic communications networks and physical infrastructure elements owned or administered by public institutions within the national system of defense, public order, and national security.
The implementation of Law no. 255/2023 is expected to bring about several positive implications for electronic communications in Romania. By providing clearer definitions and guidelines, the law enhances the user experience, particularly in border areas where inadvertent roaming has been a recurring issue. The installation of warning signs in these areas will help users become more aware of the potential risk and take necessary precautions.
ANCOM plays a critical role in the successful execution of this law. Within one year from July 27, 2023, ANCOM is required to publish the list of areas at risk for involuntary roaming. This timeline emphasizes the importance of promptly identifying and addressing these risk areas for the benefit of electronic communications users.
Law no. 255/2023 signifies a significant step forward in the regulation of electronic communications in Romania. Its comprehensive approach to addressing inadvertent roaming and providing clarity in definitions and guidelines is commendable. As the law comes into force, users and providers alike can look forward to a more streamlined and secure electronic communications experience. However, users are encouraged by ANCOM to be proactive in avoiding inadvertent roaming situations. By paying attention to messages from their operators and manually selecting networks, users can prevent unexpected roaming charges even in border areas. More info can be found on ANCOM’s website.
Q1: Will Law no. 255/2023 completely eliminate roaming charges for all users?
A: While Law no. 255/2023 aims to address involuntary roaming situations, it does not eliminate roaming charges. Regular roaming charges may still apply when using services in foreign networks while traveling. Users are encouraged to be proactive in avoiding inadvertent roaming situations. By paying attention to messages from their operators and manually selecting networks, users can prevent unexpected roaming charges even in border areas.
Q2: Will the warning signs for involuntary roaming be placed at all border areas?
A: The warning signs will be placed only in the areas specified by ANCOM’s published list, indicating the zones with a risk of involuntary roaming. At the entrances to the areas mentioned in ANCOM’s list, you’ll find warning signs that will follow Romanian road sign standards, written in big, bold letters: “CAUTION!” in red and “RISK OF INVOLUNTARY ROAMING” in black.
Q3: Do the provisions of this law apply to both mobile phones and tablets?
A: Yes, the law covers both mobile phones and tablets, ensuring a comprehensive approach to addressing inadvertent roaming across various electronic devices.