The Regulatory Framework for General Authorizations

The regulatory framework governing the process for obtaining a general authorization or class licence is often contained in a country’s general telecommunications legislation or in a regulation to such legislation.  For example, sections 32 and 33 of the Telecommunications Act of Grenada outline the basic process by which a class licence is issued.  Section 11(1)(h) of this Act provides that the regulator in Grenada has the power to receive and review applications for class licences, and to advise the Minister about whether a licence should be issued.  The Minister ultimately issues the class licence, pursuant the Minister’s authority to do so under section 6(1)(h) of the Telecommunications Act.


In Singapore, sections 5(1) and 5(2) of the Telecommunications Act provide the regulator in Singapore (the IDA) with the authority to issue licences to “…any class of persons…”.  This is the basis of IDA’s authority to issue class licences in Singapore.  Details about the process for obtaining a class licence, as well as the terms and conditions attached to such licences, are found in a regulation to the Telecommunications Act.  Part II of the Telecommunications (Class Licences) Regulations prescribes how a person may obtain a class licence in Singapore. 


In Malaysia, both the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998  (the “MCMA”) and the Communications and Multimedia (Licensing) Regulations (the “MCM Licensing Regulations”) contain important information about the regulatory framework for the issuance of and registration for class licences.  For example, regulation 17 of the MCM Licensing Regulations  provides that the Minister may decide that a service or an activity will be subject to a class licence.  However, the Minister’s authority to make such a determination is established in section 44 of the MCMA.


Similarly, the requirement to register to operate under a class licence is contained in section 44 of the MCMA.  Section 45 of the MCMA provides that such registration is accomplished by filing a registration notice and paying the related fees.  Details concerning the form of the registration notice are contained in regulation 19 of the MCM Licensing Regulations.


The general requirements for issuing class licences in the European Union are set out in the Authorisation Directive.  Each Member State of the EU must implement these requirements into its domestic telecommunications legislation.


Some Member States, such as Sweden, have implemented the requirements contained in the Authorisation Directive for issuing general authorizations, including the process for obtaining a general authorization, into a new piece of legislation.  In other countries, such as Norway and Ireland, the relevant requirements are contained in regulations.


In more unusual cases, the regulatory framework governing the process for obtaining a class licence is outlined in regulatory decisions or other regulatory instruments.  For example, in Telecom Decision CRTC 98-17, “Regulatory Regime for the Provision of International Telecommunications Services” (“Decision 98-17”), the Canadian regulator determined that basic international telecommunications services (“BITS”) licences should be issued pursuant to a general licence scheme.  In paragraphs 351 to 367 of Decision 98-17, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the “CRTC”) outlines its decision and establishes the requirements and procedures for obtaining a BITS licence.



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