On Wednesday January, 17, 2018, the "Resolution whereby the Plenary of the Federal Telecommunications Institute approved and issued the guidelines establishing quality indexes and parameters to be complied with by mobile service providers, and whereby the Basic Technical Mobile Service Quality Plan and the measurement methodology for the Basic Technical Mobile Service Quality Plan were published as of August 30, 2011 and as of June 27, 2012, respectively" ("Acuerdo mediante el cual el Pleno del Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones aprueba y emite los lineamientos que fijan los índices y parámetros de calidad a que deberán sujetarse los prestadores del servicio móvil y se abroga el Plan Técnico Fundamental de Calidad del Servicio Móvil publicado el 30 de agosto de 2011, así como la metodología de mediciones del Plan Técnico Fundamental de Calidad del Servicio Local Móvil publicada el 27 de junio de 2012") was published in the Official Federal Gazette.
To whom is this new regulation applicable?
As suggested by its name, this new regulation will be applicable to mobile service providers (voice, text messages, and data transfer), which may be a concessionaire, a wholesale mobile concessionaire, or a virtual mobile carrier.
What does this new regulation imply?
With these guidelines, the Federal Telecommunications Institute (hereinafter, the "Institute") seeks to improve mobile service quality and customer service, and to promote competition within the market. Therefore, these guidelines establish the formulas and mechanisms that the Institute will use to measure the quality and information indexes that each mobile service provider has when providing users with voice, SMS, and data transfer services.
The foregoing will allow the Institute to inform users of this service, as well as the Federal Consumer Protection Agency, of the results of any measurement made by the Institute. In addition, the Institute will be able to penalize anyone who fails to comply with minimum quality standards, as set forth in this new regulation.
Which are the obligations I must comply with?
Mobile service providers must, at first, submit their differentiated and guaranteed coverage maps before the Institute. Then, they must continue to comply with this obligation on a quarterly basis.
Likewise, mobile service providers operating their own management systems must electronically inform the Institute, via a format included in the guidelines, of any service failure, no more than 30 minutes after such failure has taken place. Afterwards, mobile service providers must inform the Institute of the relevant failure every 24 hours until it is fixed.
The Institute, in turn, will inform the Federal Consumer Protection Agency of the corresponding failure, so that the Agency, within the scope of its powers, may verify it, regardless of whether users demand a discount and/or compensation.
As regards customer service, mobile service providers must inform the general public of the means whereby they may access the aforementioned coverage maps. To that end, in addition to sending the relevant notice to their users via email or text message, mobile service providers must make it available on their websites, provided that service providers must, at all times, abide by accessibility guidelines focused on people who experience disabilities.
What is more, mobile service providers must implement customer service systems, through service desks, call centers, and/or digital means, provided that the last two options must be available 24 hours a day, all year round, by dialing toll-free geographical numbers ("01800") from any mobile device.
In addition, a report must be generated for every complaint filed by any user, who must be given an acknowledgment of receipt, which the user must be able to consult on the website of the mobile service provider. Similarly, the user must be informed once a complaint has been solved, either via a short message or by phone.
What happens if I do not comply with these obligations?
Failure to comply with these obligations will result in an inspection and, if applicable, a penalty imposed by the Federal Telecommunications Institute under the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, you must know that, as regards the measurement of information and quality parameters, during 2018, the Institute will perform assessments only for information purposes. Therefore, the Institute may start penalizing mobile service providers not complying with information and quality requirements until January 1, 2019.
As from which date must I comply with the obligations set forth in these guidelines?
These guidelines will be valid as from March 18, this year. Therefore, in order to avoid any penalty from the Federal Telecommunications Institute, the first obligations must be complied with no later than March 28, this year.
What will happen to the Basic Technical Local Mobile Service Plan and its Measurement Methodology?
As from the effective date of these guidelines, the regulation that is currently effective will be deemed null and void.
It is clear that these guidelines impose a new regulatory burden on mobile service providers. However, to be certain of the obligations to be complied with by each company, each case must be analyzed depending on whether the company is a concessionaire, a wholesale mobile concessionaire, or a virtual mobile carrier. Therefore, we invite you to approach us about this new regulation, so that we may design a compliance strategy, and so that potential penalties that may adversely affect your company may be avoided.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.