On December 24th, 2021, Legislative Decree No. 207 of the 8th of November 2021 entered into force, transposing into Italian law the Directive (EU) No. 2018/1972 on the European Electronic Communications Code, which introduces significant changes to the regulatory framework of the sector.
The new Electronic Communications Code will produce important consequences for consumers, as well as confirming the fundamental importance of internet access. It covers: electronic communications networks and services for public use, including networks used for broadcasting sound and television programmes and cable television networks; closed user groups; electronic communications networks and services for private use; protection of underwater electronic communications facilities; radio services.
One very important aspect concerns free access to the internet, which is recognised as a fundamental right for people's economic well-being and social and civil growth. Difficulties in accessing the internet represent a serious obstacle to interpersonal and communication skills for consumers, but even more so for businesses, since the spread of broadband internet is a factor in the economic and employment growth of any territory. A minimum connection speed is an essential requirement for the distribution of services.
The new Electronic Communications Code stipulates that broadband internet access, and not just voice service, should become part of the universal service to which consumers are entitled, throughout the country, at an affordable price. In every location there must be at least one telephone operator which guarantees at an affordable price the universal service, i.e. the voice service and the bandwidth necessary to support the minimum set of activities required for social and economic participation in society.
One of the most interesting innovations concerns telephony contracts: each telephony contract, including equipment instalments, will have to have a maximum duration of 24 months, and operators will have to provide at least one commercial proposal with a maximum initial duration of 12 months. This means that, with the new code, consumers will not have only 48-month offers anymore, and without instalments to be paid even after cancellation. The new contract duration rules also apply to non-consumers, such as micro enterprises, professionals, and organisations.