Arcep publishes the 2022 edition of its “Connected territories” report (Volume 2 of its Annual report): thematic factsheets on Arcep regulation in support of connected territories.
What are the highlights of the regional digital development workstreams and actions carried out in 2021?
Quality of service on fibre and copper, to ensure user satisfaction
Responsive to the reports filed by elected officials on fibre and copper network quality of service, Arcep has made actions in this area one of its top priorities. In 2021, as part of the “Fibre network operation” working group, it published a complementary action plan focused on prevention, increased monitoring of service calls and repairing damaged network concentration points, etc. Two new working groups created by Arcep in late 2021 will dedicate themselves to the completion of all last mile connections and to making operator switching processes more fluid.
This work is being completed by an appraisal of the state of 750 network concentration points, located across the country, which is being conducted during the first half of 2022.
Quality of service on the copper network remains a major issue, particularly in areas without fibre access.
Copper network switch-off and switchover to fibre
The 2020s will mark a true milestone in the history of fixed infrastructure, with the transition from copper to fibre-based networks. Several actions already began in 2021-2022 to prepare for this transition, including trial copper network switch-offs conducted by Orange, and monitored by Arcep, as well as the examination of commercial closures. 2022 is an especially significant year for this historic undertaking: on 31 January 2022, Orange submitted its copper local loop network switch-off plan to Arcep, so that it might be published for consultation, as stipulated by the regulatory framework Arcep established in December 2020. The Authority will work to ensure that this switch-off proceeds at a pace and according to procedures that protect the interests of every user, both consumers and business, and guarantees fair and effective competition between operators.
High quality mobile coverage
While, over the course of 2021, Arcep continued to verify operators’ compliance with the obligations they made under the New Deal for Mobile, ensuring they met a series of deadlines, operators themselves continued their rollout efforts to improve connectivity in the territories. In particular, the obligation to deploy 4G in virtually every existing cell site by the end of 2020 meant that a great many people in France began to enjoy better mobile connectivity.
2021 was also the year that 5G deployments began to click into gear, with the commercial opening of sites in a host of cities in France. The 5G observatory published by Arcep gives everyone the ability to track the deployment of this new technology, both nationally and in each of the regions.
Users can obtain mobile network data and monitor network performance on the “Mon réseau mobile” website.
New frequency assignments in the overseas territories
Another highlight of 2021 was the launch of frequency award procedures in the French overseas departments and territories, to ensure the availability of high-quality, innovative and reliable superfast mobile services. The new frequency bands that have been assigned must improve 4G mobile coverage and kick-off 5G deployment. The award of licences to use frequencies will continue over the course of 2022.
Environmental issues, a new regulatory chapter
More and more attention is being paid to the digital carbon footprint. Arcep was keen to tackle the issue full on, and in 2021 continued its work on “Achieving digital sustainability” begun the year before. The Government’s “Digital and the Environment” roadmap assigned Arcep the task of creating a digital sustainability barometer, on which a law was adopted on 23 December 2021, and gave it newfound powers to collect environmental data from a larger array of digital stakeholders. Work is being conducted in concert with ADEME (a report on the digital environmental footprint in France published in January 2022), and with Arcom (an upcoming report on the environmental impact of different media broadcasting systems).
Key figures for 2021
OPTICAL FIBRE: +3 million additional premises passed via public-initiative networks (PIN) in a year
2021 was marked by a dramatic acceleration in the pace of FttH rollouts in areas covered by public-initiative networks, outpacing those taking place in areas covered by private initiative.
MOBILE COVERAGE: 85% of Metropolitan France covered for 4G by all four operators
And the quality of mobile connections has improved substantially: e.g., the success rate for loading web pages in under 10 seconds reached 95% in Metropolitan France.
All of the key figures are presented in the form of infographics in the fixed and mobile connectivity overviews.
A toolkit for the territories
The “Connected territories” report includes an explanatory summary of the tools made available to the territories: the “Ma connexion internet”, “Mon réseau mobile” (My internet connection, My mobile network) websites, etc. and, among the new additions for 2021, regional and departmental-scale tools designed for local authorities, that can be downloaded directly
A three-volume annual report: three facets of Arcep’s actions
For the sixth year in a row, and in accordance with the Independent Authorities Act (Loi sur les Autorités administratives indépendantes, AAI) adopted in January 2017, Arcep is publishing its 2022 report in three volumes:
Volume 1 “Arcep and regulated markets” provides an update on Arcep’s responsibilities, and the actions and decisions carried out in 2022. It also details Arcep’s European and international activities, which have contributed to the building of Europe and the promotion of French telecoms regulation.
Volume 2 “Regulation in support of Connected territories” is devoted to Arcep’s actions in support of regional connectivity. This document is addressed to elected officials, local authority and operator representatives.
Volume 3 “The State of the Internet in France” complies with European Open Internet Regulation which requires Arcep, and all national regulatory authorities, to publish an annual report on their net neutrality monitoring actions, along with their findings. This report also complies with the obligation set out in the Independent Authorities Act for Arcep to include “issues relating to neutrality and the use of IPv6 addressing technologies” in its annual report. Published on 7 July 2021, it was presented to the media and digital ecosystem experts at a dedicated press conference. Since 2020, it has included a chapter devoted to incorporating environmental issues into regulation.