Network Policy (Stage 3/4)
In order to ensure fair and functioning competition on the telecommunications
market, the Austrian legislature has assigned specific duties in the field of
competition regulation to the regulatory authorities for telecommunications. The
main priority is to ensure that the population and the business world are
provided with reasonably priced, high-quality and innovative telecommunications
services. This is achieved by lowering barriers to market entry for new
providers, carrying out market analyses, ensuring open network access, and
acting as a conciliation body in disputes between market participants, to name
just a few examples.
The regulatory framework for communications was transposed in Austria by means
of the Telecommunications Act 2003 (TKG 2003) which took effect on August 20,
2003. With this act, regulation has developed from sector-specific regulation
towards general competition law. It prohibits any monopoly or appearance of a
monopoly ( “significant market power”) from competing in the marketplace. In the
TKG 2003, the regulatory authorities have been assigned new tasks, such as, for
example, a number of authorizations to issue ordinances as well as ensuring no
existence of monopolies.
Significant market power is determined if; Either individually or jointly with
others, it enjoys a position of economic strength affording it the power to
behave to an appreciable extent independently of competitors, customers and
ultimately consumers. In making an assessment of significant market power of an
undertaking the regulatory authority shall consider, in particular, the criteria
The regulatory bodies in situations where a monoply may exist can impose upon
the entitie(s) to make public the following:
- Accounting information
- Network characteristics
- Terms and conditions for supply and use
- Prices including discounts.
Regulation (Stage 4)
Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications
The Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR) provides operational
support for the Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria) and the Telekom-Control Commission (TKK) in the fulfillment of their duties.
For KommAustria, RTR manages the Digital Platform Austria working group, perform tasks in the fields of broadcasting frequency management,
legal supervision and advertising monitoring, and support the authority in procedures carried out under broadcasting law.
In providing operational support for the Telekom-Control Commission, RTR's various teams are responsible for approvals of general terms
and conditions of business, electronic signatures, frequency allocation procedures and competition regulation.
RTR also provides operational support for the Postal Service Regulation Commission (PCK), specifically in the field of post office regulation,
general terms and conditions of business, competition regulation and supervisory measures.
Additional activities at RTR include alternative dispute resolution, the administration of the Austrian Digitization Fund,
Television Fund, Private Broadcasting Fund and Non-Commercial Fund, dispute settlement for retail customers,
the administration of communications parameters (e.g., numbering) and the definition of relevant markets.
RTR is required by law to provide an annual report on its activities and the deployment of financial resources.
The organization's business operations and annual financial statements are reviewed by external auditors.
The Media Division covers and supports the following areas of activity at RTR:
The Telecommunications and Postal Service Division is responsible for the following areas:
- Broadcasting Regulation
- Digitization Fund
- Austrian Television Fund
- Non-Commercial Broadcasting Fund
- Private Broadcasting Fund
- Supervisory Authority for Collecting Societies
Telekom Control Commission
- Telecommunications Regulation
- Electronic Signatures
- Postal Regulation
The Telekom-Control Commission (TKK) has been responsible for regulating the Austrian telecommunications market since 1997.
The tasks and responsibilities of this regulatory authority, which is not bound by the instructions of any other body,
are defined precisely in the Austrian Telecommunications Act of 2003. Among other things, the TKK is in charge of
competition regulation, frequency allocation procedures, the approval of general terms and conditions of business,
as well as monitoring the fees charged by telecommunications companies. Another of the TKK's key duties is its role as
the supervisory authority for electronic signatures.
RTR's Telecommunications Division provides operational support for the TKK and the PCK.
Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria)
The Austrian Communications Authority, also known as KommAustria, is the regulatory authority for electronic audio media
and electronic audiovisual media in Austria. Since early April 2004.
Since its establishment under the KommAustria Act in 2001, KommAustria has been responsible for issuing licenses to private
television and radio stations, managing broadcasting frequencies, handling the legal supervision of private broadcasters,
as well as preparing and launching digital broadcasting in Austria.
Since January 2004, KommAustria has also been in charge of administering the Austrian federal government's press and
journalism subsidies. In August of the same year, KommAustria also assumed responsibility for monitoring compliance with
Austrian advertising regulations in broadcasts of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) and private broadcasters.
Since October 1, 2010, KommAustria has also been responsible for legal supervision of ORF and its subsidiaries, for the legal
supervision of private providers of audiovisual media services on the Internet, and for certain tasks under the Austrian
Act on Exclusive Television Rights.
ICT Trade Policy (Stage 4)
Austria boasts one of the most advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors in Europe, despite having one of Europe's smaller populations with only 8.2 million people. Austria's ICT sector has experienced steady growth over the past five years, already leaving behind Austria’s important tourism sector with a total value of economic output (turnover) of € 28 billion. Therefore this sector is seen as one of the most important economic drivers for Austria. The Information and Communications Technology Sector as a cross section of technologies offers an enormous potential for innovation, research and development with its broad network of universities, colleges and research institutions all collaborating closely with the private industry.
In 2007, Austrian ICT companies achieved a turnover of 15 billion euros; if we include down-stream industries, such as consulting, advertising and the media, turnover was even 30 billion euros. Measured against the GDP, the ICT sector is even bigger than the major Austrian tourism industry. The ICT sector accounts for one quarter of the GNP growth.
Competition and heterogeneity are the typical features of the growing ICT market in Austria. In addition to the big names, such as Siemens, Infineon, Sony or Microsoft, Austria is home to specialised niche suppliers, such as Frequentis, and numerous smaller companies, many of them spin-offs and temporary business/science cooperations that ensure creativity and dynamism on this market. Some 2.7 percent of the gross national product (GDP) is currently invested in ICT; the total IT expenses amount to 6.3 billion euros, and the trend is upward: The industry expects an annual growth of 5.4 percent by 2011.
In May 2006, Microsoft added an F and E subsidiary to its first subsidiary founded in 1991 in Vienna. With the take-over of the Austro-American company Vexcel, the American software and IT group now has a second base in Graz and employs approximately 350 people at the two locations. In October 2008, a Microsoft Innovation Centre will be opened in Vienna. The centre, with partners such as Hewlett-Packard, Polycom and others, will develop software solutions further and train IT specialists of tomorrow.
In all rankings, Austria comes first with regard to the e-government offer in the EU. Austrian companies are able to carry out nearly all their dealings with authorities on-line.