Anatel gives in to mobile carriers, changes PCS rules

Significant changes in the PCS rules were announced Monday, July 15, by José Leite, a director of Anatel. The changes apply to both PCS licensees and conventional cellular operators that migrate to PCS. The latter have been fighting Anatel on this issue for almost two years and now appear to have won almost all the concessions they wanted. Even before the changes were announced Luiz Guilherme Schymura de Oliveira, director-general of Anatel, had said the regulator was in a ?delicate? position because migration of existing cellular carriers was fundamental but they weren?t prepared to give any ground on their demands. The new draft, published July 19 in the Federal Register (Diário Oficial da União), remains open for comment by fax or letter until August 17 and for email contributions until August 12.

Interconnect tariff frozen

The main change in the rules is the removal of a clause calling for free negotiation of interconnect rates. Thus the interconnect accounting tariff currently in force will be frozen even for cellular carriers that migrate to PCS. Technically speaking, Anatel stipulates that the maximum VU-M network remuneration tariff will be the same as the TU-M tariff. New VU-M rates will be approved by Anatel every 12 months based on inflation and productivity, following the same procedure as now applies to cellular rates. However, Anatel has caved in and agreed to approve the VU-M rates enshrined in today?s interconnection agreements if carriers should find it convenient to maintain them. If a company opts for consolidation of its operations, Anatel will set the VU-M rate. All calling plans offered to the public, rather than just the basic plan, must include a cost-based interconnect component. And Anatel has now agreed to a procedure known as "bill and keep" whereby PCS-PCS calls pay no interconnect rates.

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Tighter control of delinquencies

The new draft PCS rules also allow carriers to refuse post-paid service to consumers in arrears with any other company, not just telcos. Non-payment of bills can be penalized after 30 days (down from 60 days in the previous draft). Only two weeks after an unpaid bill falls due, the customer can be prevented from originating calls. After another two weeks the service can be cut off completely and the subscriber?s name blacklisted by credit bureaus. If the bill remains unpaid after 45 days, the carrier can terminate its contract with the delinquent customer. Part-payment of bills will be allowed only if the customer challenges the full amount charged.


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