In a statement, Anacom points out that, in 2021, "it imposed fines in the global amount of €1.5 million to Meo, NOS and Vodafone, for non-compliance with the rules laid down in the Electronic Communications Law applicable to the suspension and termination of services for lack of payment of invoices".
Meo's fine, of €712,000, "was imposed in December 2021, for the practice of 104 offences", Anacom adds, referring that "in addition to the violations of the rules applicable to the suspension and termination of services provided for non-payment of invoices, in 2015 and 2016, Meo also illegally suspended services due to high consumption".
Meo, from Altice Portugal, filed an appeal to challenge Anacom's decision with the Court of Competition, Regulation and Supervision (TCRS), adds the regulator.
In the case of Vodafone, the regulator decided "to impose a fine in the amount of €425,000 " due to the "practice of 58 offences, for violations of the rules applicable to the suspension and termination of services provided for non-payment of invoices, in 2013 , 2014 and 2015".
NOS "was sanctioned with a fine of €369,000, for the practice of 54 offences, in question is the violation of the same rules, in 2015 and 2016", details the regulator led by João Cadete de Matos.
"NOS and Vodafone appealed against Anacom's decision to the TCRS", he adds.
Anacom points out that, "in the infringement proceedings brought against Meo, NOS and Vodafone, the infringements found were related to the abrupt suspension of subscriber services, as they were not notified of the respective notice; with the non-mandatory suspension of services; and with the failure to terminate the contract after non-compliance with one of the instalments of the payment agreement concluded with consumers".
The rules on the suspension and termination of the services provided "aim to protect users of the essential public service of electronic communications and to promote the timely fulfilment of contracts concluded with consumers, avoiding indebtedness and, thus, increasing the use of judicial means for recovery of the respective credit".
The regulator stresses that, "given the importance of the protected interests and the situation of economic fragility in which many subscribers find themselves, Anacom will continue to pay special attention to this issue, especially after the repeal of the exceptional measures defined within the scope of the pandemic – currently in effect until 31.03.2022".
These exceptional measures prohibit operators from suspending the provision of services due to lack of payment when this is motivated by situations of unemployment, a drop in household income equal to or greater than 20% or by infection by Covid-19.