EU calls on Bulgaria to ensure fixed-line phone number portability

EU calls on Bulgaria to ensure fixed-line phone number portability

The European Commission has decided to formally request Bulgaria to ensure that all customers can keep their fixed phone number when changing operator, as required by EU telecoms rules. Bulgaria had been given an extended deadline to introduce this requirement by January 1 2009. The Commission issued a first warning in May 2009 when the deadline passed without results, a media statement said. The Bulgarian authorities then took action and since July 2009, most Bulgarian fixed-line phone customers have been able to keep their phone number when changing operator. However, the Commission said it had decided to formally request Bulgaria to ensure that the remaining fixed phone subscribers still using analogue lines also have this option. The request is in the form of a "reasoned opinion" under infringement procedures laid down in EU treaty rules. EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "Number portability is essential for effective competition on telecoms markets. "It is not acceptable that about 10 per cent of Bulgarian fixed-line phone customers still do not have this option and I expect the Bulgarian authorities to address this issue without delay," Kroes said. Under EU telecoms rules, all customers have the right to switch their mobile or fixed telephone operator while keeping the same phone number. When Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, a special agreement was reached that delayed the introduction of number portability until January 1 2009. "However, despite this additional time, Bulgaria is still the only EU country where fixed number portability has not yet been fully implemented,"the EC said. Becuase about 10 per cent of the fixed lines in Bulgaria are still analogue, technical limitations mean that Bulgaria does not completely fulfil its obligations under EU telecoms rules. The reasoned opinion therefore requires Bulgaria to comply with EU telecoms rules by taking adequate measures to ensure full availability of fixed number portability for all customers. Bulgaria now has two months to comply with the reasoned opinion. If Bulgaria fails to comply within this period, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

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