Negotiators from EU member states and the European Parliament said they have agreed a directive laying down conditions under which voice telephone services will be provided from 1 January 1998.
The main changes to rules agreed by member states in June cover the universal service, provided mainly by incumbent operators, quality of service and consumer protection, their statement said.
"Member states may impose additional requirements concerning the provision of telecomms services. Such additional requirements may not have an impact on the costing of universal service as laid down at EU level and may not be financed from a mandatory contribution by market players," it said.
Certain operators, mainly incumbents, are to provide a universal service covering a range of telecomms services, including phone, fax and data lines, at a reasonable rate to all sectors of society under a subsidy system.
Other changes negotiated at the meeting today require contracts for telecomms services to provide information on quality levels offered, the statement said.
National regulatory authorities will also now be able to order contract changes, not just at their own initiative, but at the request of consumer organisations, it said.
Member states must take specific measures to ensure disabled users have equal access to services, including directory services, it said.
The date by which certain facilities, such as tone dialling, itemised billing and selective call barring at the customer's request, has been brought forward a year to 31 December 2001.
The directive adapts earlier EU rules on voice telephony to take account of liberalisation from 1 January 1 1998, when certain players will no longer hold special or exclusive rights.
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