Digital media as tools for the empowerment of users of public telecommunications services

On some occasion, throughout our lives as citizens we have gone to various entities of the Public Administration in order to exercise our rights or duties, a situation that for many years was considered synonymous with traveling in person to an institutional headquarters, generating the perception that any administrative procedure is cumbersome as it involves the investment of valuable time and resources.

Faced with this scenario, and in a pandemic context such as the current one, technology has become a mechanism that allows reducing the difficulties involved in initiating a procedure before an entity, mainly through the digital transformation approach, which is defined as a "continuous, disruptive, strategic and cultural change process that is based on the intensive use of digital technologies, systematization and data analysis to generate economic, social and value effects for people"[1].

In this sense, the digital transformation mainly implies that the Public Administration must establish policies, regulate and create beneficial conditions for the administered, so that they access digital platforms and services that are provided totally or partially through the Internet or another network. similar, automatically, not in person and using digital technologies. In this way, conditions are generated that contribute to the administrations having various channels to meet their needs as citizens and, even, participate as economic agents within a digital government.[2].

It should be noted that, although the digital transformation requires the inclusion of all entities, there is a particular challenge for the regulatory bodies of private investment in public services. These bodies, in the exercise of the normative function, will issue norms referring to the interests, obligations or rights of the users, so they may adopt the aforementioned digital transformation approach by regulating the procedures that are in charge of them in accordance with the principle of user primacy[3], according to which the needs and demands of users should guide the design and development of public services through multichannels, a single window, evaluation of user opinion and necessary information.

In Peru, OSIPTEL, as the Regulatory Body of the public telecommunications service, established through the Single Ordered Text of the Conditions of Use of the Public Telecommunications Services[4] that the subscribers[5] They have the right to freely choose the plan that best suits them, receive the service contract, have an uninterrupted and quality service, submit claims, receive clear, detailed and updated information, receive a payment receipt, carry, give of low to your service without conditioning, block the equipment and suspend the service due to loss or theft, temporarily suspend the service, among others.  

With the aim of safeguarding and promoting the aforementioned rights of users under the approach of digital transformation, the Regulatory Body, through the OSIPTEL 2020-2022 Digital Government Plan[6], established that one of the objectives of digital government is to increase user satisfaction using digital services from the strategic perspective of user empowerment.

By way of example, but not limited to, some of the projects or actions developed by OSIPTEL will be described below, in order to empower users through digital services:

  1. Checatuplan.pe: This project, previously called “Comparatel”, is a tool that makes it easier for users of telecommunications services to compare the benefits and conditions of the mobile telephone and fixed internet rate plans currently marketed by operating companies, with the objective of identifying the plan that meets your needs as a user and your financial capacity. Likewise, this website has calculators that allow users to identify their data consumption and the internet speed they require according to their use.
  2. Comparamóvil: It is another digital service aimed at keeping users informed while, through this platform, people will be able to compare the prices of cellular equipment offered by operating companies based on their different types of line, plans and which are available in physical or virtual stores, allowing users to purchase mobile terminal equipment at the best market price.
  3. PUNKU: Through the Periodic Information Requirement Standard[7] OSIPTEL ordered that operating companies should submit information, in accordance with the corresponding terms, conditions, and formats. Based on the information sent by the operating companies, OSIPTEL created PUNKU as a computer tool available to all people that allows obtaining statistical reports of the telecommunications market indicators based on said information.
  4. OSIPTEL signal: It is a computer application, through which the user can find out the coverage and type of mobile service technology in each of the localities declared by the operating companies before OSIPTEL. In addition, this platform allows the user to enter a report on quality problems in the mobile service that it detects in a particular location; so much so that in the first quarter of this year, users reported up to 1551 cases of interruption and mobile service coverage[8].

In this way, operating companies comply with providing users with the possibility of having the necessary information to make a decision or make a duly informed choice in contracting the public telecommunications service, as well as knowing the coverage of the service, what which will also allow the user to make appropriate use or consumption of said services, in accordance with the provisions of the Single Ordered Text of the Conditions of Use of Public Telecommunications Services.

The tools to empower users are not exclusively elaborated by the regulatory body, but rather, through the use of regulatory authority, it ordered the operating companies to create computer applications[9] available on its web portal and in a mobile application that can be used on stationary computers, cell phones, laptops and tablets, with the aim of providing personalized information and digitizing the hiring process. The aforementioned applications must have minimal information (characteristics of the plan, receipts, consumption history, requests, contracts, status and claims monitoring) and allow the hiring of new registrations, migration, terminate the service, service requests, submit claims, complaints and appeals, among other options.

Additionally, it is convenient to bring into place the actions that were taken during the declaration of the state of emergency from the COVID-19 outbreak, a situation in which it is necessary to reduce the presence in order to avoid further infections. Thus, in this context, OSIPTEL approved temporary measures aimed at promoting the use of electronic notification, enabling the elevation of the file and additional communications in digital format in the user complaints procedure.[10].

Failure to comply with the obligation to upload the file in digital format, the elevation letter is not digitally signed or the elevation letter does not contain the sworn statement on the authenticity and integrity of the documents raised, the operating companies may be sanctioned with a fine amounting to 51 to 150 Tax Unit when a serious offense is constituted.

In short, OSIPTEL has been adopting the digital transformation manifesto in the implementation of its user-oriented projects, still maintaining challenges to shorten the digital divide that is very evident in our country. In this scenario, the project called "interactive consultations via USSD" is a great initiative aimed at allowing users located in rural areas, where they do not have 3G and 4G technologies, can have access to information on rate increases, IMEI, state of appeal and complaint, as well as reporting outages, without necessarily having internet access. Undoubtedly, this project will be an advance that should be replicated in other projects due to the inclusive approach it implies.  


*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators of The Crypto Legal blog or the Lawgic Tec association.

[1] Literal u of article 5 of Directive No. 001-2021-PCM / SGD “Directive that establishes the Guidelines for the Integral Conversion of Administrative Procedures to Digital Platforms or Services”.

[2] According to the OECD, the definition of digital government is the following: the use of digital technologies as an integral part of the modernization strategies of governments to create public value. It is based on a digital government ecosystem made up of government actors, non-governmental organizations, companies, citizen associations and individuals who support the production of data, services and content and have access to them through interactions within the government. See: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264223639-en

[3] ECLAC (2021), “Digital governance and government interoperability: a guide for its implementation”, Project Documents (LC / TS.2021 / 80), Santiago, p. 52. Available at: https://hdl.handle.net/11362/47018 Consultation: September 18, 2021.

[4] Approved by Board of Directors Resolution No. 138-2012-CD / OSIPTEL.

[5] In accordance with the Single Ordained Text of the General Regulation of the Telecommunications Law, approved by Supreme Decree No. 020-2007-MTC, the subscriber is that "user who has entered into a contract for the provision of telecommunications services with a company providing public services”. Likewise, according to the Glossary of Resolution No. 138-2012-CD / OSIPTEL, the term subscriber is understood to be “to any natural or legal person who has entered into a contract for the provision of public telecommunications services with any of the operating companies of said services, regardless of the contracted payment method".

[6] Approved by Presidency Resolution No. 00019-2020-PD / OSIPTEL.

[7] Approved by Board of Directors Resolution No. 096-2015-CD / OSIPTEL.

[8] Available on: https://www.osiptel.gob.pe/portal-del-usuario/noticias/herramienta-digital-senal-osiptel-facilito-el-reporte-de-mas-de-1551-casos-de-interrupcion-y-cobertura-del-servicio-movil-en-el-primer-trimestre/. Consultation: September 21, 2021.

[9] In accordance with Board of Directors Resolution No. 019-2021-CD-OSIPTEL and Board of Directors Resolution No. 078-2021-CD / OSIPTEL. 

[10] In accordance with Board of Directors Resolution No. 145-2020-CD / OSIPTEL and Board of Directors Resolution No. 136–2021-CD / OSIPTEL.

 

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Rosa Quispe
Lawyer from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), with a Second Specialty in Administrative Law and a specialization course in Telecommunications Law. With experience in the private and public sector in Administrative Law and consultancies in trilateral procedures, administrative sanctioning procedure, unfair competition, regulation of public services and protection of personal data.

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