ANACOM's activity in 2017 focused on protection of consumer rights and interests

ANACOM embarked on a new cycle in 2017 with a new chair of its Board of Directors taking office and with the majority of the Board's sitting members leaving office (all these members were replaced by February 2018).

With this change in management, it is important to highlight the activity pursued by ANACOM in 2017 in the different areas of its work, carried out to provide for a competitive market, as is essential to the development of postal and electronic communications, while bearing in mind the necessity for territorial cohesion and a robust response to the needs of the most disadvantaged sections of the Portuguese population. Within this framework, special and increasing priority has been given to protecting the rights and interests of consumers and of end-users of communications services.

  • The fires which occurred in 2017 had a major impact on the communications sector, on local populations and on economic activities, prompting ANACOM to intervene in order to restore communications services to affected populations as quickly as possible, and also to recommend that operators refrain from charging customers for sums specified in contracts in relation to the period that services were interrupted. ANACOM also promoted a study and sought to identify measures to ensure the security and resilience of communications infrastructure and the establishment and implementation of efficient warning systems for the population in emergency situations.

In 2017, ANACOM engaged in five further areas with particular impact on the development of the communications sector and on consumer protection:

  • ANACOM has carried out rigorous and comprehensive work on evaluating the universal postal service, with a view to establishing quality indicators and performance targets, as well as setting prices for this service, which will be in force during the 2018-2020 three-year period.
  • ANACOM ordered MEO, NOS, NOWO and Vodafone to adopt corrective measures which would allow customers affected by unilaterally imposed contractual changes to terminate contracts without charge (even if subject to lock-in periods or to other loyalty commitments), where these customers did not accept the contractual changes in question. ANACOM also determined that, alternatively, companies could choose to restore the contractual conditions existing prior to the changes.
  • confronted with complaints from consumers about payments for mobile content and services that they did not subscribe to, ANACOM decided to recommend to providers that they only require payment in cases where customers have given prior and express authorisation through declarations given on durable media. This issue refers to situations where subscribers to communications services accessed WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) pages while browsing the Internet and allegedly purchased entertainment content.
  • ANACOM has promoted several studies related to the need to ensure the population's access to free television and to schedule the release of the 700 MHz band for mobile communications services connected to 5G, which will require the migration of the current digital terrestrial television (DTT) network to a new network after 2020.
  • Extensive monitoring of zero-rating and equivalent offers provided by mobile Internet access providers was carried out in order to assess whether these offers violated the open internet and roaming rules.
  • ANACOM submitted its opinion to AdC - Autoridade da Concorrência (Competition Authority) on the concentration operation involving MEO and Media Capital, concluding that there was a likelihood of significant barriers to effective competition ensuing in the various electronic communications markets, to the ultimate detriment of end-consumers and should therefore not be authorised as proposed.

In economic and financial terms, ANACOM concluded 2017 reporting revenues of 91.1 million euros (increasing 7% from 2016). This increase was mainly due to the increase in fees set by the government for frequency use.

Over the same period, total expenditure was reported at 55 million euros (an increase of 11% over 2016). This increase stems largely from factors where ANACOM's control is limited: the strengthening of provisions for ongoing legal proceedings and the full restoration of reductions in remuneration (this restoration was completed in 2016 and had full effect in 2017). Excluding the increase in provisions for ongoing legal proceedings, costs increased by only 4%, whereas, over the last seven years, ANACOM has reduced expenditure on the acquisition of goods and services by around 30%.

For the year, ANACOM reported net income of 36.1 million euros (35.9 million euros in 2016). ANACOM proposes that, from that sum, 33.6 million euros be transferred to the Portuguese State for use in the development of communications in Portugal for the benefit of end-users.