The European Union has introduced new laws that will prohibit telcos and ISPs from imposing lock-in conditions familiar to many Australian consumers.
The new EU telecoms rules include the right for customers to switch telecoms operators in a single day without changing their phone number.
They also provide users a right to more clarity about the services offered and stronger protection of personal data online.
Carriers and ISPs will be obliged to offer 12 month contracts and contracts no longer than 24-months in an effort to allow consumers to switch more easily to a different operator if they find a better deal.
In addition, carriers and ISPs will be bound to offer more information about minimum service quality levels in these contracts.
Internet subscribers must be given information about traffic management techniques and their impact on service quality, as well as any other limitations such as bandwidth caps, available connection speed or the blocking or 'throttling' of access to certain services such as Voice Over Internet Protocol.
Contracts also must give details of compensation and refunds available if these minimum levels are not met (see IP/11/486 and MEMO/11/319).
The new rules also prohibit personal data breaches and "spam" (unsolicited e-mails), with mandatory notifications for personal data breaches.
They require improved information and consent requirements for storing or accessing information in users' devices (such as 'cookies' unrelated to a service currently being accessed - see MEMO/11/320).
The EU’s Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will oversee the new arrangements, due to be implemented in all 27 of the EU Member States by 25th May 2011.
The European Commission will launch infringement proceedings against any of its Member States which have not implemented the laws in time.
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