Regulator threatens intervention unless MVNOs are operating by 2007

30 May 2006

Spain’s Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT) says it expects to see the country’s first mobile virtual network operators (MNVOs) operating by 2007, according to local news reports. In January this year the European Commission endorsed recommendations by the CMT to introduce MNVOs, but the country’s incumbent cellcos – Telefónica, Vodafone and Amena – have been dragging their heels and refusing to make their networks available. The regulator has previously said it will be forced to intervene if no deals are signed by October.

The path towards the launch of MVNOs in Spain has been a long and tedious process. In May 2002 the CMT passed new legislation governing the setting up of MVNO agreements, and in May 2005 it awarded its first MVNO licences to Tele2, BT Group, Jazztel, Grupalia Internet and Meflur Comunicarte. Cable operator TeleCable also received an MVNO concession in December 2005. But shortly afterwards the CMT sent a report to the EC criticising Spain’s cellcos for not allowing third-party access to their networks. The EC backed the CMT on the proviso that the regulator closely monitors the introduction of the new players. Amena has since launched an appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court. France Télécom subsidiary Amena is claiming that the regulator does not have the authority to unilaterally impose conditions for MVNOs to gain access to wireless operators’ networks.