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Gungl: Regulation is no aim in itself – the focus must be on customers

“The regulatory authority’s true core business is to hand down forward-looking regulatory decisions with lasting effect, in line with the goal of providing incentives for expanding high-performance infrastructure and in this way ensuring innovative communications services to high quality standards.” With this statement, Johannes Gungl, Managing Director of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division as of 1 February 2014, underscored the purpose of regulatory activities on the occasion of his first press conference. “In this context it seems essential to me that we focus our attention more firmly on customers – and here I mean consumers and businesses – and through the efforts of our regulatory authority ensure the greatest possible benefits in terms of choice, price and quality of communications services.”

Creating awareness of the importance of expanding broadband services

“Daily life has become unimaginable without information and communication technologies, and such technologies have a deep impact on productivity in every sector of the economy. For this reason it is a special concern of mine to move forward the expansion of broadband services in Austria,” Gungl went on, and added: “To create the necessary awareness, it is essential to maintain an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders, and with policymakers in particular. In its role as operative arm of the Internet Society Competence Centre, RTR will provide intensive support through its expertise and, in keeping with the federal government’s mandate, work closely with businesses on developing projects that strengthen Austria’s profile as a centre of ICT.”

A closer look at price changes in the mobile market

Speaking to rate increases in the mobile telecommunications market, Gungl announced that price changes would be carefully observed and receive serious attention: “We are investigating whether the price changes are here to stay. Yet in order to do that, time is required, for a number of reasons; there are clear signs that new mobile telephony suppliers will enter the Austrian market and stimulate competition. But this will not happen overnight. The same applies to the conditions that Hutchison is required to meet as a result of its merger with Orange,” the new regulator explained. “We are in close contact on this matter with the other competition authorities, however, and will intervene immediately at even the faintest sign of price collusion,” Gungl announced.
Maintaining a superior level of consumer protection

“End users enjoy extensive protection as a result of the large number of RTR ordinances. The number of conciliation cases decreased considerably in 2013, by 35%, demonstrating how effective these protection measures have been,” Gungl explained. “I would like to make every effort to ensure that the number of conciliation cases remains this low in the future. We will consequently focus our strategic efforts in the area of user protection on identifying regulatory deficits, such as those currently existing with regard to content services, and to make the government aware of those deficits as well as to counteract them with suitable legal instruments if necessary.” Further plans include expanding the information offered to end users on the RTR website and enabling procedures to be processed entirely via the web portal.

Representing Austria’s interests through international cooperation

“The regulatory framework has in the meantime become a symphony composed at the international level; it is thus our declared mission to continue to participate in international activities,” Gungl stated. “RTR’s team of specialists enjoy an outstanding reputation in Europe, and through their participation in numerous BEREC working groups and their close cooperation with the European Commission they represent the interests of Austrian businesses and consumers. In view of the accelerated pace of developments in the ICT industry, it is especially important to be able to participate in shaping the European context,” Gungl noted in conclusion.

Johannes Gungl was appointed Managing Director of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division for the period of 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2019 by Federal Minister Doris Bures. Prior to the appointment, Gungl had worked in the mobile telecommunications industry for more than ten years.