Paris, 26 July 2018
Today, Arcep is adopting a recommendation on the consistency of Fibre to the Home (FttH) rollouts. The aim of the text is to ensure consistent and complete FttH network deployments, to prevent unnecessary overlaps and to maximise the cost-effectiveness of investments, to bring superfast fixed network connectivity to every region in France. It provides stakeholders with clarity on the application of the regulatory framework, and on the actions that operators need to take to ensure the successful coordination of FttH rollouts between all of the public and private sector operators involved. This recommendation is a follow-up to the Opinion that Arcep delivered to the Senate in Autumn 2017 (1).
The recommendation thus details the framework governing the process of meshing regions by technical fibre rollout area. When an operator deploying fibre in given location declares the service area of the concentration point a "target rollout area," this declaration should be followed rapidly by actual deployments. The declaration thus marks the starting point for meeting the obligation to cover the entire area, within the defined timeframe. From now on, this zoning can serve as the reference point for all deployments in the area in question, and so provide local authorities with the clarity they need.
• Why is this text necessary?
Arcep had identified threats to rollout consistency resulting from a lack of coordination between operators
As the Authority stated in its Opinion No. 2017-1293 of 23 October 2017, issued at the request of the Senate and regarding regional digital coverage, there is a danger that some of operators' rollout practices could undermine the goal of achieving consistent deployments across the country.
In particular, Arcep had noted:
- Risks resulting from certain infrastructure operators' regional pre-empting strategies, in other words officially announced rollout plans with no rapid follow-through, which acts as a deterrent to another operator that might perform rollouts more quickly;
- Inefficient plans for overlapping networks, in other words announced rollouts for areas that are already covered by existing networks or for which rollouts had already been planned;
- Risks of cherry picking, in other words rollout schemes that do not plan to cover the most costly lines, while making it impossible for another operator to do so.
Arcep considers these practices to be, a priori, both inefficient and in opposition with several of the objectives set out in the law, particularly the goal of stimulating investment and regional digital development; as well as the goals of performing consistent rollouts and achieving homogenous coverage of the service areas.
• Such practices should be avoided
To this end, Arcep issued a reminder that appropriate tools exist and, in a public consultation, offered clarifications on the process for implementing them
The tools put into place by the regulatory framework should have enabled operators to prevent these situations from arising.
This is why Arcep held a public consultation from 30 March to 15 May of this year on a draft recommendation whose purpose is to ensure that operators make full use of these tools, notably by clarifying the terms and methods for meeting consistent rollout obligations.
This draft recommendation:
1/ specified the starting point and sequencing of rollouts;
2/ clarified the scope of the zoning defined at the time of the consultation process prior to deployments;
3/ set out the consequences of the obligation of completeness with a regulatory threshold of 1,000 lines.
The Authority received 17 responses to this public consultation from operators and local authorities which requested some clarifications for implementing the rules.
• Arcep is adopting a recommendation that takes requests for more detail into account
The recommendation being adopted takes into account the requests for greater clarity that were formulated in response to the public consultation.
In particular, the text specifies that, during the consultation process prior to deployments, it is the process of declaring a location a "target rollout area" that marks the start date for the timeframe for achieving completeness.
Finally, Arcep is calling on operators to amend their information exchange flows by 31 December 2018, to fully implement the particulars and clarifications set forth in this recommendation.
• The text serves to complement the legally binding commitments made by operators, pursuant to CPCE Article L. 33-13
By providing clarification on the application of the regulatory framework, this recommendation serves to complement the legally binding commitments made for deploying fibre in more sparsely populated areas covered by private initiative (those parts of the country where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent, called "zones AMII" in French). These commitments were made in accordance with Article L.33-13 of the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE), which stipulates that operators can propose commitments to the Government that will further regional development and coverage, after having obtained Arcep's opinion (2) on the matter. This draft recommendation thus seeks to clarify the rules governing rollouts, whereas Article L.33-13 pertains to the scale and timetable for these rollouts.
(1) https://www.arcep.fr/uploads/tx_gsavis/17-1293.pdf (pdf - 1.40 Mo)
(2) Orange and SFR FttH rollout commitments for "AMII" areas: Arcep welcomes operators' proposed commitments. - Arcep press release of 27 June 2018