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Telecommunications
Laws of the World

Overview of legal landscape

Spain
Spain

The regulatory framework for electronic communications adopted by the European Union in 2002 was initially transposed to the Spanish legal framework  by means of the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 (no longer in force).  The aim of this piece of legislation was to develop the principles of free competition and minimal administrative intervention.

Since its publication, the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 has experienced several changes in order to ensure the emergence and viability of new operators, the protection of users' rights and the administrative supervision of public services aspects, public domain and competition.

Recently, the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 has been replaced by the new Spanish Telecommunications Act 9/2014 (in force since 9 May 2014), which transposed, among other things, the EU Directives 2009/136/EC and 2009/140/EC.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Overview
Spain

The regulatory framework for electronic communications adopted by the European Union in 2002 was initially transposed to the Spanish legal framework  by means of the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 (no longer in force).  The aim of this piece of legislation was to develop the principles of free competition and minimal administrative intervention.

Since its publication, the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 has experienced several changes in order to ensure the emergence and viability of new operators, the protection of users' rights and the administrative supervision of public services aspects, public domain and competition.

Recently, the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 has been replaced by the new Spanish Telecommunications Act 9/2014 (in force since 9 May 2014), which transposed, among other things, the EU Directives 2009/136/EC and 2009/140/EC.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Laws and regulations

Currently, the primary piece of legislation governing the telecoms industry in Spain is the Spanish Telecommunications Act 9/2014 (the 'Spanish Telecommunications Act').

The following subordinate legislation may also impact the provision of communication services and the operation of communication networks:

  • The Spanish Royal Decree 424/2005, approving the rules on the conditions for the provision of electronic communications, universal service and consumers' protection

In addition to this, the following legislation may also impact the provision of communication services and the operation of communication networks:

The key features of the Spanish Telecommunication Act are to:

  • Protect recipients of communication services, making sure that telecommunication providers comply with the regulatory requirements set forth in the applicable regulations
  • Ensure that telecommunication services are provided in a competitive market
  • Regulate and control the allocation of telephone numbers, including premium rate telephone services
  • Ensure the principle of universal service, namely that affordable basic telephony services should be available to everyone
Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Regulatory bodies

The Spanish regulatory authority for telecommunication matters is the so-called Spanish Telecommunications Market Commission (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones or the CMT) which has been recently incorporated under the Spanish Commission for the Market and the Competence (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia or the CNMC).

Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia

Address: Calle Alcalá 47 (28014 Madrid)

Telephone: 91 432 9600

Website: www.cnmc.es

Comisión Nacional del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones

Address: Carrer de Bolivia 56 (08018 Barcelona)

Telephone: 93 603 6200

Website: www.cmt.es

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Regulated activities

Under the Spanish Telecommunications Act, there are two types of telecommunications services providers:

  • Providers of electronic communication services
  • Providers of electronic communication networks

  (together, the 'Services')

As detailed below, providing those Services is subject to having previously been registered before the Spanish Telecoms Operators Registry of the CMT.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Registration / licensing

As indicated before, successfully completing a registration process before the Spanish Telecoms Operators Registry is required prior to providing the Services in Spain.  Besides being registered, an additional regulatory authorisation or licence is not requested.

By completing the registration process, any operator will be qualified as a 'telecommunication operator' in Spain, and shall be legally entitled to start providing the Services.

In order to successfully complete this registration process, certain administrative and technical documentation shall be submitted to the CMT, as follows:

Administrative documentation

Application form: the legal representative signing this form shall be empowered to act on behalf of the VGE, as representative of the operator before the CMT. A copy of the relevant Power of Attorney shall be attached to the application form.

Corporate information of the company that aims to be registered as a telecom operator: This includes the incorporation deed, Spanish Tax Identification Number, powers of attorney, etc.  If it is not a Spanish company, all such documents shall be duly legalised, apostilled, and translated (sworn translation).

Technical information

Description of the network to be used including the following information:

  • Brief description of the engineering and network design including:

    • Territorial coverage scope

    • Information on whether the network is owned by the operator or by others (wholly or partially)

    • Information on whether the network implementation requires the occupation of public domain or private property

    • Information on whether the network implementation requires the occupation of radio spectrum

    • Information on whether the network shall provide the support service for broadcasting services (radio/TV)

    • Explanatory block diagram to facilitate the description

  • Type of technology or technologies that shall be used

  • Security and confidentiality measures to be implemented in the network

  • Confirming the particular type of communication network which is to be operated:

    • Telephone network (fixed or mobile)

    • Electronic communications network

Description of the service to be supplied:

  • Functional description of the services including:

    • Complementary block diagram to facilitate the description of the services, including the technology that shall be used

    • Information on whether the network used is owned by the operator or by others.  In the event that their own network is used, the technical documentation listed above (in 'description of the network to be used including the following information') shall be also submitted

    • Territorial scope of the provision of services

  • Commercial information of the services to be provided

  • Indicate the specific type of telecommunication services to be provided

The notification shall also include a statement from the operator's representative stating that the operator meets all legal requirements set forth in any applicable provisions.

In order to successfully complete this registration process, operators should be registered within 15 working days following CMT's analysis of the documentation submitted by the operator.  The CMT will only be entitled to dismiss a registration request in the case where the operator has not provided the completed information requested.

The relevant information and documentation to be provided in connection with this notification process can be found in detail here.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Establishment

From a regulatory standpoint, it is not required to have a permanent establishment or legal residence in Spain in order to be registered in the Spanish Telecoms Operators Registry. Any entity located within the EU territory is entitled to be registered in the Spanish Telecoms Operators Registry (provided that the administrative and technical requirements described in Registration / licensing are met).

However, a legal representative in Spain should be designated for notification purposes.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Interconnection/roaming

Interconnection: The interconnection principle is set forth by the Spanish Telecommunications Act, establishing the right to have universal access to the telephone services.  Therefore, the CMT is empowered to appoint a 'dominant operator' for certain Services.  This dominant operator must ensure access to fixed telecommunication services at an affordable cost from anywhere in Spain.

Roaming: In early April 2014, the European Parliament voted to end roaming charges which resulted in the surcharges that telephone companies charge their customers for the use of their mobiles in another country, to completely disappear on 15 December 2015.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Consumer protection

In addition to the principles and obligations set forth in the Spanish Telecommunication Act, there are other regulations regarding consumer protection principles, which will also be applicable to telecommunication operators registered before the Spanish Telecoms Operators Registry and providing telecoms services involving consumers.

The main piece of legislation in Spain regarding consumer protection matters is the Spanish Consumer Protection Act.

It should be noted that the provisions and principles in connection with consumer protection (set forth in the Spanish Telecommunication Act) will prevail from the principles set forth in the Spanish Consumer Protection Act, which will only be applicable on a subsidiary manner.

Moreover, the Spanish Data Protection Law will also be applicable to operators responsible for collecting and processing the personal data of consumers in Spain, who will be considered data controllers.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Taxes and fees

A registered telecom operator is subject to the payment of an annual regulatory tax, called a General Telecommunications Tax (GTT).

The GTT rate is set forth every year. The GTT rate for 2014 was one thousandth (1/1000) of the annual net income of the operator providing the services. It should be noted that (as set forth by the Spanish Telecommunication Act), the GTT rate cannot exceed one point five thousandths (1.5/1000) of the annual net income of the operator.

The procedure for completing the payment of the GTT is as follows:

In January, the tax department of the CMT sends a request to all registered telecom operators, to notify their net income for the previous year (covering from 1 January to 31 December).  The timeframe to provide the CMT with this information is usually 10 working days.  Upon receiving such information, the CMT will determine the amount to be paid (by applying the approved tax rate) and send the operator a payment request.

This is connected to operating in the Spanish telecommunications' market and therefore being subject to the regulatory supervision of the Spanish authorities.  In theory, the GTT is intended to compensate the authorities for the efforts made in the course of such monitoring activities. All operators are therefore subject to the GTT.

On top of the GTT, there are other ad hoc taxes that apply only to the operators that seek and obtain the assignment of numbering blocks, the reservation of specific frequencies of the radio-electric domain, or the issue of compliance/homologation certificates by the Spanish regulatory authorities.  The specific amount of these ad hoc taxes is established on a case-by-case basis in a specific piece of regulation when granting the assignment/reservation/certificate. All these taxes are regulated within indents 1 to 5 of Annex 1 of the Spanish Telecommunications Act 9/2014.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Enforcement

The Spanish General Telecommunications Act sets forth a sanctioning procedure and depending on the type of the breach, different penalties and sanctions will apply.

In particular, the following three types of sanctions set forth:

  • Minor infractions, which are subjected to fines up to EUR 50,000
  • Serious infractions which are subjected to fines up to EUR 2,000,000
  • Very serious infractions which are subject to fines up to EUR 20,000,000 and in the case of very severe breaches, additional penalties such as the operator being disqualified from offering the Services in Spain for 5 years
Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Contacts
Diego Ramos
Diego Ramos
Partner
T +34 91 319 12 12
Paula González de Castejón
Paula González de Castejón
Legal Director
T +34 91 788 7374
Last modified 5 Oct 2016