ARCEP brings final touches to broadband and ultra-fast broadband regulation

Paris, 15th June 2011

The deployment of a 21st century communications network based on optical fibre will gradually allow all citizens, all public services and all businesses across the country to access individual and collective services that require ultra-fast broadband connections.

The process of deploying such a network, which will shape our economy and our society for more than half a century, must be prepared through experimentation, listening to stakeholders and in-depth discussions. This is what ARCEP – the authority charged by European and national legislation to design the framework for this deployment – has been doing since 2008. After the decisions issued in December 2009 and December 2010, ARCEP is now bringing the final touches to this framework.

As a result, France will become the first country in Europe to provide its economic stakeholders and local authorities, and regional authorities in particular, with a secure legal, technical and economic framework enabling investment and access to high quality services for all consumers.

ARCEP,

  • after having taken into account the remarks of the sector’s stakeholders (carriers and local authorities), the French Competition Authority and the European Commission, adopted analysis decisions relating to broadband and ultra-fast broadband markets (markets 4 and 5);
  • also adopted two recommendations that come to flesh out and complete the regulatory framework governing broadband and ultra-fast broadband;
  • along with the recommendation concerning the terms of accessing optical fibre lines in “small” buildings in very high-density areas, which specifies the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout scheme for these areas;
  • and recommendations on the implementation of schemes for increasing connection speeds through access to the France Telecom copper sub-loop, which include detailed implementation modalities for projects to increase bandwidth, based on obligations imposed on France Telecom.

The entire framework that is now in place is in keeping with the directives of the Telecoms package which aims not only to enable the development of lasting competition, but also to encourage infrastructure-sharing and co-investment between the players.

The framework endeavours especially to:

  • shore up regulation in those areas where competition can be improved, especially by enabling the expansion of unbundling and increasing bandwidth on existing networks;
  • lightening regulation in those areas where competition has developed;
  • monitoring the market’s development in the new and evolving context of FTTH local loop deployment.

ARCEP is also submitting a technical-economic model for fibre local loop rollouts to public consultation, which will ultimately enable a detailed analysis of the economics of network rollouts for each geographic area.

The momentum of ultra-fast broadband rollouts, which began back in July 2008 with the ARCEP decision requiring France Telecom to provide access to its civil engineering, is now properly underway in the country’s densely populated areas. Actions that are due to take place over the course of the summer will help expand this momentum to the rest of France, particularly the publication of the main operators’ access offers and a call for co-investment outside of very high-density areas.

As it has been doing with unbundling since 2000, ARCEP will work actively with the stakeholders – particularly through the various working groups whose members include carriers, equipment manufacturers and local authorities – to implement this framework in an efficient and pragmatic fashion.