Paris, 1st April 2011
The verification performed by ARCEP revealed that mobile carriers Bouygues Télécom, Orange France and SFR had all exceeded the 3G mobile telephony deployment levels they were required to achieve by the end of 2010:
- for Bouygues Télécom, according to the terms of the licence it was awarded in 2002, this meant covering 75% of the population;
- for Orange France and SFR, under the stipulations of the demand of performance issued on 30 November 2009, this meant 91% and 88% coverage of the population, respectively.
1/ To verify the 3G coverage maps provided by each of the carriers, a field survey was carried out in January and February 2011. It revealed that, on the whole, the accuracy of the coverage map supplied by each of the carriers matched the level required under the terms of their licences. More specifically, it was ascertained that:
- Orange France 3G coverage in the 900 MHz band is less reliable than its 3G coverage in the 2.1 GHz band, and therefore needs to be improved. A similar observation was made with respect to SFR during a verification performed at the time of its deadline in mid-2010;
- SFR 3G coverage in the 900 MHz band has improved significantly and is nearing the degree of reliability achieved in the 2.1 GHz band;
- Bouygues Télécom rollouts in the 900 MHz band are not yet on a large enough scale to be able to compare them with deployments in the 2.1 GHz band.
2/ The percentage of the covered population that was verified is the one indicated in the 3G coverage maps delivered by each of the mobile carriers, and a database of the population geolocated at the building level.
Based on this work, the Director General of ARCEP considers that there is no cause to pursue the respective demand of performance procedures with which Orange France and SFR were bound to comply by 31 December 2010. Although these carriers have expanded their 3G coverage tremendously since 2009, they need to maintain this momentum to be able to achieve a 3G footprint that matches the levels they committed to voluntarily during the call for applications for 3G licences back in 2001.
ARCEP has also ascertained that Bouygues Télécom has met the target coverage level stipulated in the 3G licence it was issued in 2002. The Authority invites the carrier to continue to invest in expanding the geographical footprint of its 3G mobile network.
Using to the method described above, ARCEP will verify the coverage levels achieved by the three mobile carriers when their next deadlines occur, i.e. 31 December 2011 for Orange France and SFR who, under the terms of the demand of performance issued on 30 November 2009, are to have achieved 98% coverage of the population, and 12 January 2012 for Free Mobile who, in accordance with the terms of the 3G licence it was awarded in 2010, must be covering 27% of the population by that time.