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Competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services

Competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services


Ensure that every undertaking has the right to provide electronic communications services or put in place, extend or exploit electronic communication networks without restriction.

2) ACT

Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communication networks and services [Official Journal L 249, 17.09.2002].



This directive continues the trend of liberalising the communications sector, launched by the Commission in 1999. It supplements the European regulatory framework applicable to electronic communications networks and services put in place by a General Directive and four Specific Directives of 7 March 2002.

Clarifications of the concept of electronic communications

Under the new Directive the terms "electronic communications" and "electronic communications networks" include all electronic communications services and/or networks which are concerned with the conveyance of signals by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic means, including therefore, the broadcasting of radio and television programmes. However, the directive excludes from the regulatory framework services providing or exercising editorial control over content transmitted, using electronic communications networks and services. This clarification confirms the distinction made by the new regulatory framework between services and content transmitted by means of networks and services.

Abolition of exclusive and special rights for electronic communications networks and services

The key provision of the directive provides for the abolition of exclusive or special rights granted by the Member States for the establishment and/or the provision of electronic communications networks, or for the provision of publicly available electronic communications services. Before 24 July 2003, each Member State must take the necessary measures to guarantee each undertaking the right to provide services or exploit networks, without discrimination, in accordance with a general authorisation regime which replaces the licensing system.

Only a reasoned opinion on the part of the competent regulatory authority within the framework of a general request for authorisation may prevent an undertaking from providing services or networks.

Vertically integrated public undertakings

Member States must ensure that vertically integrated public undertakings which provide electronic communications networks and which are in a dominant position do not discriminate in favour of their own activities.

Other services and networks

The trend to liberalisation also extends to directory and directory enquiry services, frequencies, television satellites and cable networks with the same objective of abolishing any unjustified restriction which might hinder the development of competing services.


Member States must, by 25 July 2003, provide the Commission with the information enabling it to confirm that these provisions have been complied with and effectively implemented.


Dateof entry into force

Final date for implementation in the Member States

Directive 2002/77/EC



Last updated: 23.07.2003