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Mobile telephony

Coverage

The coverage requirements that are set for the telecommunications companies apply at a general level and do not in themselves entail rights for individual subscribers in specific geographic areas.

The agreement you have with your telecommunications company may contain conditions regarding coverage in specific areas, however it is normal that nothing in particular is agreed.

As the supervisory authority, Nkom does not have the right to demand further coverage from the mobile operators.

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The mobile networks have maximum limit of capacity. If there are many people who call at the same time the network can be overloaded. You must then attempt to call again until you have established contact.

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When your own network operator is down you will only be able to call the 112 number. This is because 112 is a joint European emergency number.

112 will also be able to reconnect the person in need with the fire or ambulance services. It can also be noted that the majority of countries in Europe only have one emergency number, i.e. 112.

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Invoices

In the regulations monitored by Nkom there are no provisions that prohibit the mobile companies from charging fees when refilling prepaid card subscriptions. However, information of such extra costs must be provided in accordance with the provisions in the Marketing Control Act. It is the Consumer Ombudsman that monitors the Marketing Control Act and you can therefore contact them for more information concerning this.

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Some end-users experience receiving bills directly from providers of various content services (for example, phone sex, fortune tellers, chat etc.) even if they have a prepaid card.

This occurs when those who manage the content service records the number of the used service and issue the bill to the person afterwards. In such instances, the actual metering units will be charged to the prepaid card (or telephone bill) while the service is invoiced separately.

The Consumer Ombudsman has allowed the practice so long as the price of the service is provided. However, if it is a minor who has used the service, it may be that you don’t have to pay the bill from the content supplier. Read more at the Norwegian Consumer Council website, or contact the Norwegian Consumer Council for guidance.

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When a minor is registered as the user of a mobile phone subscription, the telecommunications company must ensure that the user is not offered content services that contain graphic depictions of violence or that have pornographic content (Section 5a-5 of the Ecom Regulations).

It is the telecommunications company that is fully liable to the user and which requests payment on behalf of the content provider. If a financial dispute arises concerning content services, the dispute must be attempted to be resolved by the mobile phone subscriber submitting a complaint to the telecommunications company. The telecommunications company must have a satisfactory scheme for handling complaints regarding content services.

If the dispute is not resolved between the mobile phone subscriber and the telecommunications company, the matter can be brought before the Consumer Complaints Board for Electronic Communications.

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Subscriptions

A number of mobile companies offer prepaid card subscriptions to children under the age of 18. If a child is to have a mobile subscription which is invoiced in arrears, the subscription must be registered in the name of an adult. The reason for this is that minors cannot, as a main rule, incur debts, cf. Section 2 of the Guardianship Act.

When a minor is registered as the user of a mobile subscription, the telecommunications company is ordered to block the subscription from content services that contain graphic depictions of violence or have pornographic content, and that are invoiced directly in the telephone bill (premium rate services). You also have the right to block the subscription against premium rate services and to control costs with the assistance of amount limits (Section 5a of the Ecom Regulations).

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If you have not filled up your prepaid card for a while (for example in the past 12 or 15 months, check this in your subscription agreement), your mobile company has the right to deactivate your subscription and release your number such that this can be issued to another subscriber. This could occur even if you have money left on the card and even if you have called from or received calls to your telephone during this period. Such reuse of numbers is entirely necessary because numbers are in short supply.

If you have money left on your card when deactivation takes place, the majority of mobile companies will refund the unused amount (check with your company as to whether the refund is automatic). The company will most probably charge a fee for this and you will therefore only be paid money if your balance exceeds the amount of the fee.

If a dispute arises in connection with this you may send a complaint to your company and possibly thereafter to the Consumer Complaints Board.

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Whether or not you have the right to get the number back depends on what has been agreed between you and your employer. If it is agreed that you shall keep your telephone number when the employment arrangement comes to an end, the employer cannot oppose this. Disputes concerning such matters can be brought before the standard dispute resolution bodies (Conciliation Board, courts) unless the case can be resolved between the parties.

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Unwanted advertising/content messages

Content messages (SMS or MMS) to cell phones, which are billed via your phone bill, should be stopped by returning the word STOP to the content provider (Section 5a-2 of the Ecom Regulations).

If you do not succeed in stopping the messages in this manner, you can submit a complaint to your telecommunications company. If you wish to dispute a claim for payment from your telecommunications company and require information about how to proceed, you may contact the Consumer Ombudsman.

If you and your telecommunications company cannot agree on the payment of the messages you have received, you may bring the case before the Consumer Complaints Board for Electronic Communications.

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This is regulated by Section 15 of the Marketing Control Act which is enforced by The Consumer Ombudsman. Section 15 of the Marketing Control Act states it is prohibited to send advertisements, with the assistance of email, SMS, fax and the like, to people who have not requested this.

However, if you have been a customer with a company subsequent to 1 February 2005, this company could send you advertising via email or SMS/MMS for similar products to those you have purchased even if you have not given your explicit consent. The company must then inform you that the email address and mobile number you provided will be sent advertising.

The company must also give you the opportunity to, easily and free of charge, say no to receive such advertising and they must provide information about how you can avoid being sent more inquiries in each email or SMS/MMS advertisement that is sent out. If you receive advertisements in violation of the rules, you may report this to the Consumer Ombudsman.

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Lock-in period/operator lock

In order to unlock your mobile you require a so-called operator lock code. You can contact your mobile company and have this sent after the lock-in period has come to an end. You will often be able to remove the operator lock before the lock-in period ends, however you will also have to pay for breach of the lock-in period. Check this with your mobile company. Some mobile companies have services on their websites which enable you to access the operator code directly after the lock-in period has come to an end by entering the mobile's IMEI number (this number can usually be found under the battery in your telephone device), see for example, Telenor's website.

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Mobile companies will often require a lock-in period or operator lock when you set up a mobile subscription with them, for example if you purchase an inexpensive telephone that is sponsored by the mobile company.

NPT's regulations do not specify this. However, the Consumer Ombudsman has worked with this issue and they have set a limit for the lock-in period for private customers of 12 months. You can read more about this in Section 3.2 of the Consumer Ombudsman's guide to price marketing of electronic communications services.

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Tracking of mobile phones

Technical abilities

Most new mobile phones have tracking abilities. It is also possible to track with the assistance of information that is found on the actual mobile network. Only the telecommunications companies have access to this information.

Regulations

The duty of confidentiality for electronic communications providers, cf. Section 2-9 of the Electronic Communications Act requires that the telecommunications company cannot provide geographical position data that is found on the network to outside parties. This applies unless you have consented to the submission of the data. Companies must request the consent of the users when they offer services that require information about where the users are located.

Many providers have a standard condition in the subscription agreement entailing that you grant your consent to the submission of geographical positional data if you order services or products from third parties that require the submission of locational data.

The duty of confidentiality does not apply for emergency calls to 110, 112 and 113.

The locational data is also personal data and therefore governed by the Personal Data Act. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority can provide guidance in relation to what the Personal Data Act and the rules stipulated in accordance with this entail.

Read more about tracking at the Norwegian Data Protection Authority's website.

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