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Requirements for telecom providers

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

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Are you a provider of public telecommunications networks or telecommunications services in the Netherlands? Are you providing networks or services such as landline or mobile telephony, internet access, email or internet telephony? You must meet a number of continuity and safety requirements.

Registering as a telecom provider with the ACM

Do you provide telecom services in the Netherlands? You must register with the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM, in Dutch). Do you only engage in activities on behalf of a registered telecom provider? Then you do not need to register.

Solving and reporting interruptions or failures

You must make sure your services and networks are always functional and do not break down (continuity responsibility). Is there a technical failure or an electricity network outage? Then you need to do everything in your power to restore your services. You describe the measures you take if this happens in a continuity plan (continuïteitsplan, in Dutch). You must appoint an officer responsible for execution of the measures. If a part of your network or service fails, you must report the failure (continuity reporting duty) to the Radiocommunications Agency (Agentschap Telecom). You must make sure the emergency number 112 can be reached at all times.

Compensation in case of interruptions

If there is an interruption in internet, television or telephony services, for instance as a result of technical failure, you must compensate you customers. Compensation is mandatory (in Dutch) for interruptions that last longer than 12 hours. This compensation is related to the monthly subscription fees. You can choose the type of compensation yourself. You can choose for instance to give extra call credit or refund a part of the subscription costs. Your customer must however have agreed to this. You include the compensation arrangement in your general terms and conditions.

Security of communication data

You must protect telecommunications data. You should record the way you protect the data in a safety plan (in Dutch). There are minimum requirements you have to fulfil. You record for instance which staff members have access to these data, and how your building, equipment and systems are protected. Employees who have access to sensitive data must have a certificate of conduct (VOG). You as the owner/manager also need a VOG.

Protecting privacy

You have to delete or anonymise traffic and location data as soon as these are no longer needed for the transmission of a communication. These are privacy sensitive data. You are allowed to use these data for business purpose, for instance, to write an invoice. You must however let your subscriber or user know for how long and which data you process. Do you want to use personal data for instance for market research? You must have you subscriber’s or user’s consent before you start processing the data. Subscribers and users must be able to revoke their consent easily.

Reporting a data leak

Did you experience a security breach where personal data has been leaked? You must report this to the Dutch Privacy Authority (DPA, in Dutch)

Submitting client details

Judicial authorities and intelligence and security services may request information about one of your clients. You may also receive a request for the wiretapping and handing over of telephone communications for criminal investigations. Your network or services have to be available for this.

Net neutrality

As a provider of public telecommunications networks or telecommunications services in the Netherlands you may not delay or block competitive telephone or internet services and applications, such as Skype or WhatsApp. You are not allowed to charge extra money for these services and applications either. This is called net neutrality.

In some cases you may block or restrict internet access (in Dutch). For instance. if blocking services prevents 'congestion' on the network. Or if a law bans a certain website, app or internet service. You may take such measures as long as they are transparent, proportionally, non-discriminatory and not based on commercial interests.

Reporting telecommunications company takeovers

You are not allowed to sell you telecommunications company to an unreliable, untrustworthy, or criminal company. Such a party also cannot have power of control in your company. To secure continuity and reliability of service and to safeguard public interests the government can prohibit or reverse such a takeover. This concerns takeovers of:

  • suppliers of telephone and internet services with more than 100,000 Dutch users
  • hosting services with more than 400,000 domain names
  • internet hubs with more than 300 autonomous connected systems
  • data centres with an electric capacity of over 40 megawatts (MW)
  • certification services

Any party that wants to purchase Dutch telecom facilities, should report first to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (Ministerie van Economische Zaken en Klimaat, EZK)

Dispute resolution

Do you as a telecom provider think another telecom provider does not meet the legal requirements? Do you have a disagreement with a customer? Or do you have other issues? For instance a dispute with the municipality about the construction of a telecommunications network. Then you can ask the Authority for Consumers & Markets to decide on the issue. This is called dispute resolution (geschilbeslechting, in Dutch).

This article is related to:

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO