New Rules on Switching Internet Access Service Providers It is important for end users in Bulgaria to know that new Rules on switching Internet access service providers are adopted. End users are natural persons and legal entities alike. The Rules establish exactly in which cases the end users can resort to the designated switching procedure as set forth in the Rules. Outside these specified cases, the end users can change the Internet access service provider according to the terms as defined in the individual contracts with the said provider. The new Rules have not entered into force yet but it is advisable to get familiar with them!

The Bulgarian Communications Regulation Commission recently adopted the Rules on Switching Internet Access Service Providers (State Gazette, vol. 68/23.08.2022). The Rules enter into force within a 9-month period following the publication on 24 May 2023.

To whom the Rules apply?

"End users" within the meaning of the Rules are practically all of you provided that you are a natural person or a legal entity that is a party to a contract with an enterprise providing Internet access services – whether for your household and/or business.

What’s envisaged in the Rules?

It is important to note that the new Rules apply only and insofar all these conditions below are present, namely:
1. for access to the end user, it is necessary for the receiving (new) and the donating (current) provider to fully or partially use the same electronic communication network and/or to have a wholesale access contract concluded between them;
2. there is a technical possibility to change the provider;
3. Internet access services are provided at the same address.

If you do not meet these conditions, you do not fall within the scope of the Rules and it is therefore recommended that you review the contractual terms with your present Internet access service provider.

The Rules envisage some essential obligations for the Internet access service providers like:
- they are obliged to set forth either in the contract and/or in other pre-contractual information, and/or in the general terms of use, the conditions under which you can continue to use part or all of the additional services that were included in your subscription package before switching providers;
- they must ensure that both you switching to a new provider and their current end users are treated at equal terms;
- your current Internet access service provider should not impose any restrictions on you regarding the way you use the respective services (subscription or prepaid) when you request switching providers.

What’s the procedure for switching your Internet access service provider?

The first step is to submit a sample application to the receiving provider or to an authorized distributor, or sales representative. It is also possible to submit the application electronically if you have an electronic signature and if there is a technical possibility and it is agreed upon with the provider.

You have the opportunity to indicate a specific date for switching your previous Internet access service provider to a new one within the period as set under the law for the practical realisation of switching providers – up to 10 working days as of the moment the procedure is on.

The contract between the receiving provider and the end user enters into force on the day of the successful change of provider and installation of the service by the receiving provider. The contract with the previous provider is automatically terminated when the process of switching providers is completed.

The Rules also comprehensively specify the cases in which an Internet access service provider (current or new) may refuse the change you have requested. The refusal should be motivated.

It is important for you as end users to know that the Communications Regulation Commission has also foreseen cases in which you can request compensation from the relevant Internet access service provider - for example, if the switching was not carried out within the statutory period, or was carried out without your consent, or upon missed service and installation appointments (when applicable).

Submitting the claim for compensation to the provider is not an obstacle for the end user to bring a legal claim within court proceedings.

For legal advice and assistance in connection with the procedure for switching Internet access service providers, do not hesitate to contact us here.

Pavla Tsvetkova

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Tags: Legislation