Paris, 28 April 2011
As the result of a procedure that was engaged in accordance with Article L. 36-11 of the French Postal and electronic communications code (CPCE), the company Free has committed to putting an end to its practice of excluding certain geographical (01 to 05) and non geographical (09) numbers from its high-volume offers (1).
CPCE Article D. 98-5 forbids any practice whose purpose or outcome is discrimination based on the nature of the transmitted message. Such was indeed the case with the practices engaged in by Free which involved excluding certain numbers that the carrier believed were being used for commercial purposes, based on an analysis of the quality and activity of the parties being called. By employing this assessment of the calls as the basis for price discrimination Free showed a misunderstanding of Article D. 98-5. It should be noted that the provisions of the code do not forbid carriers from treating calls differently, notably in terms of pricing, when distinctions are based on geographical location or the recipient's carrier, for instance - provided that this treatment does not result from an assessment of the nature or content of the calls in question.
Free has committed to reintegrating the numbers beginning with 01 to 05 and with 09 which had been excluded from its flat rate offerings, and applied retroactively back to 1 April 2011. The carrier has also made the necessary changes to the legal stipulations in existing subscribers' contractual documents and those drafted for potential future customers.
ARCEP will work to ensure that the company complies with these commitments.
(1) So-called high-volume (abondance) fixed line and mobile offers are flat rate solutions that include a set number of calling hours (one or several) to certain types of number and certain destinations, at certain times of day and potentially including "unmetered" calling formulas.
Decision No. 2011-0427 (pdf - 236 Ko) of 26 April 2011, made as the result of a complaint filed against Free, pursuant to Article L. 36-11 of the French Postal and electronic communications code. (in French only )