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Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Arcepians, there are three reasons why delivering this New Year’s message is a very unusual moment for me. First, because it’s the first time that I am talking to you as the Chair of Arcep. Second, because the Covid-19 crisis has prevented the traditional New Year’s ceremony which, every year, brings together stakeholders from the sectors that Arcep is responsible for regulating, from taking place. This is truly disappointing as I would have really enjoyed starting my term of office by sharing a happy and meaningful moment with you all.
And, third, because I relinquished my duties as Deputy for the Eure-et-Loir barely one week ago, and I have not yet had the time to meet either with all of the stakeholders, or all of the people at Arcep, to talk with them and with the members of the Arcep Executive Board, to trade views and to work with them on drawing up Arcep’s new roadmap. But all this will happen in the coming days.
I am very excited and very happy to be taking the helm of Arcep. The President of the Republic’s appointment and the confirmation by the National Assembly and the Senate are a recognition of my very longstanding commitment to digital issues.
Taking over from Sébastien Soriano is no easy task, and I would like to say how grateful I am for what he accomplished, and the way he presided over Arcep, making it more accessible and more open to society and to local authorities. I have had a tremendous admiration for the quality of the work and professionalism of Arcep’s teams for many years, and I can’t wait for the privilege of working with each and every one of you.
Arcep is an authority that regulates sectors that affect the daily lives of virtually every person in France: internet access, postal services and print media distribution. These are very sensitive matters for the French.
With the members of the Arcep Board, we will work together on opening up a new and exciting term of office. We will continue to work on several longstanding core issues, in addition to tackling new ones.
As you already know, one of my main areas of focus will be achieving digital coverage nationwide, both fixed and mobile. This is vital to ensuring regional equity. As we all know, the Covid-19 crisis only heightened the situation, with the surge in teleworking and remote learning, and greater reliance on online shopping, including from local shops. Regardless of where they live, no person in France should be deprived of high quality and competitively priced internet access.
I will be committed to gaining a thorough understanding of deployment challenges, in the field, particularly those arising from the relationships between the different parties involved. We need to find a solution so we can meet announced targets, while also ensuring decent quality of service. To this end, I shall be meeting with all of the stakeholders in the coming days and weeks: commercial operators, including the four main ones – Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free – as well as infrastructure operators, local authority representatives and so-called alternative operators.
I also want Arcep to work to maintain a competitive environment, which is a cornerstone of innovation. I believe it is possible to reconcile dedicated regulation that encourages resource sharing and creates the ability to bring essential services to rural areas at an affordable price, with pro-competitive, infrastructure-based regulation that stimulates differentiation through quality of service and innovation where suitable. This is what was achieved under the New Deal for Mobile, for instance.
Lastly, I also want to pursue Arcep’s work on ICT’s environmental footprint. The members of the Arcep Board and I will need to ensure that our regulatory choices are informed by the impact they will have on the environment. It will be a new area of analysis that will be incorporated progressively.
I also want to be involved at the European level – to promote the French perspective on telecoms regulation, and open internet issues and challenges – and to be part of forthcoming discussions over digital market regulation, notably the Digital Market Act.
Regarding the postal sector, after having met with La Poste, I will suggest to the Executive Board that an observatory be put into place to monitor the universal postal service, to get a clear picture of the actual quality of service being provided to our fellow citizens.
Finally, the print media distribution sector – which had an eventful year in 2020 with France Messagerie acquiring assets from Presstalis – will be a particular area of focus in the early days of my term, as all of the regulatory measures contained in the Act of 2019 will need to be implemented shortly.
I am truly delighted at the thought of working with you all, in my new capacity of Arcep Chair. Please know that I will listen, I will be available and I will be committed to working for the common good, in accordance with the framework set by the Government and the legislator, in a fully independent manner. I look forward to collaborating with you.
On behalf of Arcep, and all of my now fellow Arcepians, I wish you a very happy 2021.