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Technical Assistance for the Telecommunications sector

13.07.2022

Summary

The ICT sector is one of the important economic sectors in the country. In Albania, the telecommunication market is fully opened for competition since 2008 and it is mainly regulated by the electronic communication law approved on 2008 (as amended thereof). Digital infrastructure and broadband is crucial for all other developments in digital integration and it affects all sectors of the economy. As demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, digital connectivity, which is realized through telecommunication networks, is  vital for citizens and businesses. Digital infrastructure and digital connectivity are a precondition for developments of digital economy in innovative industry, e-government, e-health, provision of interoperable services, provision of cross border services etc. The development of telecommunication broadband networks asks for large investments and for the establishment of appropriate legal and regulatory environment to promote the investments for future networks.
The European Commission 2020 Report notices also that Albania should adopt the necessary amendments to the law on electronic communication, in alignment with the new European electronic Communication Code, and prepare an action plan for the digital agenda.  
In addition, the European Commission has recommended Albania to free up digital dividend bands and to address the coordination issues with neighbour countries. 
Currently, in Albania, media operators use the 700 MHz band. The spectrum policy document approved by Decision of Council of Ministers No 636 of 29.7.2020, has set to 30 June 2022 the deadline to free-up the 700 MHz from the existing usage. Albania is late in the process for the release of DD2 band, compared to neighbouring countries. 
Based on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, article 104, Albania is committed to follow the EU acquis in the field of electronic network and services communication.

Overall Objective

The global objective of this contract is to align the Albanian legislation with the EU acquis in the fields of Electronic Communications and free up 700 MHz band, as part of Albania’s EU accession agenda.

Expected Results

Result 1: The legal and regulatory framework on electronic communications network and services is drafted in line with Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 December 2018 establishing the European Electronic Communications Code.
Result 2: Staff of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy and the relevant Regulatory Bodies of Albania are trained to implement the new legislation.
Result 3: The 700 MHz band, known as Digital Dividend 2, is freed up and available for 5G networks.
Result 4: The coordination process is completed and the interference issues in 700 MHz with neighbour EU and non-EU countries are addressed.
Result 5: Staff in the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and relevant regulatory bodies AMA and AKEP are trained to successfully implement the free up 700 MHz. 

Activities

Component 1: Align the legal and regulatory framework on electronic communications network services with the newly established European Electronic Communications Code.
Task 1.1: Support the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy and the Regulatory Bodies (AKEP AMA) to assess the current situation on regulation of electronic communication networks and services, and provide recommendations.
Task 1.2: Draft the new law and prepare the regulatory impact assessment (RIA) in order to transpose the New European Electronic Communications Code in Albania.
Task 1.3: Organize the workshop/s with stakeholders aiming to present a baseline report and announcing foreseen tasks of the draft act.
Task 1.3: Support the Beneficiary to conduct a comprehensive consultation process of the draft law with different stakeholders and organize a number of workshops with the relevant authorities on how to enhance law enforcement.
Task 1.4: provide capacity building (training) to the staff of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy and organise thematic workshops to assist in the successful implementation of the new European Electronic Communications Code.
Component 2: Assist in the freeing up of the 700 MHz band based on the Decision (EU) 2017/899 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 on the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band and national strategic documents by 30 June 2022.
Task 2.1: Prepare the appropriate legal/ regulatory documents in order to free up the 700 MHz band by 30 June 2022.
Task 2.2: Develop and implement a migration strategy for the 700 MHz band, with the full involvement of all relevant stakeholders to spearhead the migration process. These should include, inter alia, relevant regulatory bodies, concerned government ministries, broadcasters, telecommunications operators and civil society.
Task 2.3: Assess the costs of the migration of frequencies in order to free up the 700 MHz from the existing users.
Task 2.4: Make recommendations on the revision of the existing licenses impacted from the migration process and on other legal/regulatory aspects related with the process.
Task 2.5: Organise workshops/ training for the relevant stakeholders (MIE: MIE, AKEP, AMA, telecom market players, as well as the respective TV representatives impacted from the free up of the 700 MHz);
Task 2.6: Provide capacity building (training) to the staff of the relevant authorities to assist in the successful implementation of the Decision (EU) 2017/899 of the European Parliament

Albania
Project Value: 346,450.00 €
Ongoing
European Union
Implementing partner: PLANET AE
EU Contribution: 346,450.00 €
IPA II