The President of URTiP signed on the 5th of March 2004 a decision on the approval of a draft reference interconnection offer (RIO) submitted by TP S.A. TP S.A. is now obliged to conclude interconnection agreements with other operators on the terms not worse than those defined in the approved reference offer.
Making this decision, the President of URTiP pointed out that the reference offer prepared by the operator with the biggest market share will never satisfy all other market players. Approving the offer, the President of URTiP balanced the interests of interconnected operators.
Considering the question of „periodicity” of the RIO the President of URTiP noticed that the reference offer (also the approved one) is a document constantly verified (at least once a year). There are also legal instruments enabling the change of the offer ex officio in case of new market and economic conditions or in order to ensure effective competition in the telecommunications market. The approval of the above offer will be a starting point for further analysis whether it fulfils market conditions. This is only a model which will be subject to an assessment from the point of view of the telecommunications market’s needs and ensuring effective competition in this field.
In the opinion of the President of URTiP, the current situation requires the introduction of the reference offer for the reason of necessity of market arrangement and ensuring clear conditions for developing cooperation with TP S.A. on interconnection. The operators should know the initial terms of cooperation offered by TP S.A. and on this basis build their own business models and plan operational strategies.
The approval of the reference offer is also very important for investors (including the foreign ones) considering capital investments in the telecommunications companies, particularly in the context of Polish accession to the EU. Putting such a document into circulation in the EU Member States has always raised controversies among market players. However, defining clear, transparent and complete principles of cooperation has always had a positive meaning.
The market needs a RIO which would terminate the period of uncertainty related to its absence. The reference offer should contribute to the acceleration of negotiations and avoiding disputes; it ensures non-discriminatory terms of agreements for the market players.
The obligation to draft RIOs and to submit them for approval by the President of URTiP results from the obligations imposed by the Telecommunication law act on the operators with significant market power (above 25% of market share). Such a position in the national markets for universal service, leased lines and interconnection is held by TP S.A.
It is worth mentioning that the first request for approval of a reference interconnection offer was made by TP S.A. on the 18th of December 2002. Because of its incompatibility with the law, on the 15th of January the President of URTiP refused to approve it and upheld this decision following the TP S.A. appeal. In connection with this, TP S.A. on the 30th of April filed a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (NSA) on the decision refusing to approve the draft reference offer. On the 4th of February 2004, TP S.A. submitted a letter to URTiP containing the withdrawal of the above complaint from the Provincial Administrative Court.
On the 20th of May 2003, for the second time, TP S.A. submitted its draft reference offer concerning the interconnection of TP S.A. network with the networks of public operators, transit services for public operators, connections from TP S.A. subscribers to audio text services in the network of another operator and connections from TP S.A. subscribers to the 0-800 and 0-801 services in the network of another operator. After consideration of the submitted draft offers, on the 18th of June 2003 the President of URTiP again refused to approve them. TP S.A. filed complaints on the above decisions with the NSA. On the 4th of February 2004, the office received a letter informing about a withdrawal of the complaints from the Provincial Administrative Court.
On the 5th of January 2004, the Office received the third draft reference offer of TP S.A., taking into account new provisions of the Telecommunications law act (in force since October 2003 after the amendment) and conditions specified in the executive provisions to the Act. The President allowed the Polish Chamber of Commerce for Electronics and Telecommunication (KIGEiT) and the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunication (PIIT) to participate in the ongoing works on the draft as parties to the proceedings. The President of URTiP also turned to the Telecommunications Council, an opinion-making and advisory body gathering representatives of government administration, economic chambers as well as scientific and technical circles with request for an opinion on the TP S.A. reference offer.
The approved TP S.A. reference offer encompasses inter-operator services like the origination, termination and transit of connections in the network of TP S.A. and also connections to the directory enquiry service, radio taxi, to the emergency numbers and to the 0-20, 0-70, 0-80 services.
According to the Telecommunication law act the approved TP S.A. reference offer will be published in the URTiP Bulletin at the cost of the operator.