Interconnection Principles Contained in the WTO Regulation Reference Paper

This Practice Note outlines the principles applicable to interconnection that are contained in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Regulation Reference Paper.[i][1]

 

Section 2 of the Regulation Reference Paper addresses interconnection.  Section 2.1 states that the interconnection provisions apply “to linking suppliers providing public telecommunications transport networks or services in order to allow the users of one supplier to communicate with users of another supplier and to access services provided by another supplier, where specific commitments are undertaken.”

Section 2.2 of the Regulation Reference Paper states that interconnection with a major supplier must be “ensured at any technically feasible point in the network.”  This interconnection must be provided:

  • on non-discriminatory terms, conditions (including technical standards and specifications), and rates;
  • on a quality of service no less favourable than the major supplier provides for its own like services, the like services of its subsidiaries or other affiliates, or the like services provided to any other non-affiliated service supplier;
  • in a timely fashion on terms, conditions (including technical standards and specifications), and cost-oriented rates that are transparent and reasonable having regard to economic feasibility;
  • on a sufficiently unbundled basis so that the connecting supplier is not required to pay for network components or facilities that it does not require for the service it is purchasing; and
  • upon request, at points in addition to the network termination points offered to the majority of users, subject to charges that reflect the cost of construction of additional facilities necessary to accommodate the request.

Pursuant to section 2.3, the procedures for interconnecting to a major supplier must be made publicly available.  In order to promote transparency, section 2.4 requires that major suppliers make either a reference interconnection offer or its interconnection agreements publicly available.

The provisions on interconnection also include requirements relating to dispute resolution.  Section 2.5 provides that an interconnecting service supplier must have recourse to an independent domestic body to resolve disputes regarding appropriate terms, conditions, and rates for interconnection within a period of reasonable time.

[i][1] World Trade Organization Regulation Reference Paper being the Annex to the Fourth Protocol to the GATS Agreement, the “Agreement on Basic Telecommunications” negotiated under the auspices of the World Trade Organization in February 1997, which came into effect on 1 January 1998.

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