Greece: The General Authorization Licensing Process
As part of the European Union, Greece has adopted a licensing process that is consistent with the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications. Prior to the adoption of the EU electronic communications regulatory framework, the Greek licensing process featured general authorizations and individual licences. However, the Greek regulatory framework now features only general authorizations and the process for obtaining a general authorization has been simplified. This Practice Note describes the current general authorization framework in Greece.
The Greek general authorization licensing process was established by the “Regulation on General Authorizations” (the Regulation), which was adopted by the Greek regulator, the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (the EETT) in 2006. This Regulation was adopted after the enactment of Greek Law No. 3431/2006 “On electronic communications and other provisions” (the Greek Law).
Under the Regulation, general authorizations are required to engage in all kinds of electronic communication activities pertaining to the provision of electronic communications networks and/or services to the public, subject to any exemptions contained in the Greek Law. The Greek Law provides exemptions from the authorization requirement for the following activities:
- state electronic communication networks, networks and individual radio communication stations used for amateur radio operator services or satellite amateur radio operator services, as well as those used exclusively for experimental or research purposes or for demonstration.
- the simple resale of electronic communication services to users, provided that the resale of such services are not provided under the reseller’s own trade name and through the reseller’s own corporate structure.
- for the user’s own use of terminal radio equipment, based on the non-exclusive use of special frequency bands, as determined by a competent Authority, for reasons not associated with financial activities, e.g., the use of the civilian band by amateur radio operators.
In order to receive a general authorization to provide electronic communication networks and/or services, a person must submit a Registration Declaration to the EETT. This Registration Declaration requires information about the company providing the service, the company’s key contact persons (including, for example, its legal representative and the chairperson of its board), and identification of the network elements and services that will be provided by the applicant.
Once a complete Registration Declaration has been filed with the EETT (including the payment of the applicable fee), the applicant may immediately begin to provide the network elements and services identified in the Registration Declaration. The EETT is required to issue a standardized certificate within seven days from its receipt of a complete Registration Declaration. EETT is required to maintain a Registry of Electronic Communication Network and Service. This Registry includes an archive of Registration Declarations in hard copy and/or electronic format. The entry of a Registration Declaration in the Registry constitutes a General Authorization.
The terms and conditions of the General Authorization are set out in Annex B to the Regulation. The EETT is also authorized to issue new terms and conditions and amend existing terms and conditions for General Authorizations. The terms and conditions attached to General Authorizations include certain rights such as the right to access numbering resources and to negotiate interconnection arrangements. The standardized certificate that is issued to applicants facilitates the exercise of the rights extended to the applicants under the terms and conditions of the General Authorization. To this end, depending on the case (i.e., the nature of the network communications and services being provided) the standardized certificate:
- certifies that the applicant has submitted a Registration Declaration in an acceptable format;
- certifies that the applicant will provide electronic communication networks or/and services pertaining to the activities which the Registration Declaration has been submitted for;
- describes the conditions under which the applicant shall negotiate its interconnection pursuant to applicable law;
- describes the conditions under which the applicant will be entitled to obtain interconnection and, depending on the case, to obtain access from other persons; and
- describes the conditions under which the applicant will be entitled to file a request with competent authorities for installing various facilities in, upon, or under areas that belong to the State, to Local Government Organizations or to private persons, or which are used by the general public.
The current Greek licensing process for general authorizations differs from the former licensing process applicable to general authorizations in Greece in a number of material respects. First, the current regime applies generally to the provision of all electronic communications networks and/or services, subject to a few limited exceptions (see above). By contrast, the former licensing regime featured both individual licences and general authorizations. The former general authorization process thus required the EETT to review the application to ensure that the applicant was entitled to a general authorization and, congruently, was not required to apply for an individual licence to provide the network or service in question.
Second, the current process streamlines the application process and promotes the timely issuance of general authorizations. Under the former general authorization licensing process, if the EETT determined that there was a need for further information about the intended Telecommunication Service, the applicant could be asked to wait up to four (4) weeks from the filing of the application before it commences provision of the Telecommunications Services. Moreover, the EETT was required to request further information from the applicant if:
- the applicant intended to provide a telecommunications activity that did not belong in any category specified in an Annex to the Regulation;
- if it was a novel telecommunications activity; or
- if there was a question as to whether the proposed telecommunications activity was subject to a General Authorization, an Individual License or a Simple Resale of Telecommunications Services.
These provisions were necessary under the previous licensing regime in light of the fact that only certain networks and services could be provided under a general authorization. The EETT had an obligation to ensure that the applicant was in fact qualified to operate under a general authorization.
By contrast, under the current licensing regime, the EETT no longer has the authority to delay the issuance of the general authorization to review information about the intended Telecommunication Service, provided that the application is complete. Instead, the EETT must issue a certificate within seven days of receiving a completed application. Since the provision of almost all networks and services are subject to a general authorization under the current licensing regime, the EETT no longer requires the authority to investigate the nature of the network or service being provided.
Finally, under the former general authorization issuance process, the EETT was required to provide a decision about the Registration Declaration that:
- confirmed that the intended Telecommunications Services were subject to a General Authorization Regime and that the provision of these Services could commence immediately;
- allowed the provision of the intended Telecommunications Services on the basis of temporary terms; or
- rejected the Registration Declaration and the provision of the intended Telecommunications Service provisionally on the basis of stated reasons, which were communicated to the applicant.
The current licensing regime does not require or authorise the EETT to issue similar decisions about Registration Declarations. Again, this difference between the former and current licensing processes can be traced back to the fact that the provision of most communications networks and services are now subject to a general authorization. In most cases, there is no longer any question that the provision of the intended network or service is subject to a general authorization rather than an individual licence.