ARCEP calls the Comité des Réseaux d’Initiative Publique to discuss with municipalities and operators on how municipalities reduce high-speed white areas and forms of public intervention encouraging fibre deployment

Paris, 17 September 2008

 The Comité des réseaux d’initiative publique (CRIP), created by ARCEP in late 2004, is a discussion forum bringing together municipalities, operators and players affected by digital regional development.

Technical groups and subgroups composed of public and private players meet regularly throughout the year, and a plenary session is held once a year so that those elected officials wishing to attend and ARCEP can review the year’s work and set the program for the coming year.

The fourth CRIP plenary meeting was held on 17th September 2008.

  • Municipalities’ action in 2007-2008

Municipalities desire more and more to take action through public initiative networks. Today, a full 102 projects have been reported, including 85 major projects, each covering over 60 000 inhabitants, and 56 projects in operation.

The main changes to municipalities’ actions are as follows:

- The focus on reducing high-speed white areas, whether through new projects or by extending existing ones. These projects are essentially under the initiative of départements, departmental syndicates or regions. High-speed white areas represent approximately 500 000 ineligible lines, or less than 2% of the population. A number of technologies, whether wire or terrestrial or satellite wireless, are available to municipalities to cover these white areas.

    - Interventions in favour of fibre deployment to the home (FFTH), at a number of levels: facilitating fibre deployment by operators (e.g.: collecting information on the ground, authorising "light" civil engineering); encouraging these deployments through the provision of civil engineering infrastructures to operators and the laying of spare ducts whenever roadwork is performed; deploying a public network in addition to private initiatives.

      - Extending and increasing the density of fibre collection networks, which confirm their federating role in digital development, by allowing the extension of unbundling and serving business areas and public sites, and encouraging the economic equation of reducing white areas and preparing for higher speeds in the regions.

      • Municipalities’ central role in reducing high-speed white areas

      The President of the Republic has set a goal of 100% high-speed population coverage by 2012. Discussions at the CRIP plenary meeting revealed that, with help from the State, the municipalities will be able to meet this goal.

      A number of technologies are available to eliminate the 500 000 lines which are currently ineligible. One is the redevelopment of France Telecom’s copper local loop, which would shorten line lengths. France Telecom’s "NRA-ZO" offered to municipalities can now be implemented by any operator, in particular by the delegations of public projects. Following discussions at CRIP and the experiments conducted in the past year, on 15th September 2008 at ARCEP’s request, France Telecom published a fully-operational wholesale NRA-ZO offer and a list of eligible secondary distribution frames.

      In terms of wireless solutions, on 15 September 2008, ARCEP made public the results of its inspection done on 30th June of WIMAX frequency usage authorisation holders’ respect of their deployment obligations. Given the deployment delays, due primarily to the insufficient maturity of the technologies, ARCEP decided to keep the authorisation holders under surveillance until December 2010, the next inspection deadline. In the meantime, they will be required to submit a progress report every six months, which ARCEP will then publish.

      Last, 2008 saw the arrival of satellite offers which represent a complementary solution for covering distant homes for which the cost of terrestrial solutions would not be economically viable.

      At the plenary meeting, Paul Champsaur stated that "universal service isn’t necessarily an appropriate tool for extending high speed", considering that "it would be preferable to assist local initiatives in covering white areas […] in a concern for efficiency and coherence in public investments."

      • Establishing the deployment conditions for very high speed

      As for the deployment of optical fibre very high-speed networks to the home (FTTH), 2008 saw the application of the economy modernisation law on 4th August, which includes sharing the end part of networks, a part which cannot be economically duplicated, and which includes fibre inside homes, and others. ARCEP is responsible for determining the technical and pricing conditions for sharing, and the location of the sharing point in particular. It has begun its initial work and launched a public consultation, the summary of which will be published by the end of the month.

      The CRIP plenary session was an opportunity for Paul Champsaur to explain that "in extending this consultation, discussions held under aegis of ARCEP have shown that all operators have an interest in finding a joint solution, for which the technical difficulties have been raised. Except for a few minor discussion points, all the conditions have been met to ensure that initial agreements can be made as quickly as possible".

      The deployment of very high speed also includes the use of existing civil engineering infrastructures, which would represent a prohibitive cost if it were to be rebuilt. Paul Champsaur reviewed the regulation established by ARCEP in July and announced the publication of France Telecom's initial reference offer on 15 September 2008 allowing access to alternative operators to its ducts to deploy fibre.

      Locally, the municipalities will have a decisive role to play in preparing or accelerating network deployment. In this first phase, the municipalities will have to provide leverage to encourage operator investment in this deployment.

      • Future work

      CRIP will continue to work on the major focuses of the work identified in 2006 in coming months. As concerns the coverage of high-speed white areas, municipalities’ intervention for high points will be examined. For very high speed, work begun on civil engineering will continue, with the drafting of a model provision agreement. Two related topics will be examined in depth: the role of collection networks in increasing speeds and the structure of public network wholesale offers.

      Following the adoption of the economy modernisation law, the following work will begin:

      - Introduction of new tools for municipalities for implementing their projects

        In order to best define their projects and encourage the deployment of new networks, the municipalities need precise information on existing networks. A measure was introduced in this sense in the economy modernisation law. It requires an application decree for regional digital coverage, currently being prepared by the CRIP.

        A draft decree on information regarding the publication of information regarding regional coverage by electronic communications services is also being prepared. This decree will allow municipalities to locate white areas located in their area, in application of Article L. 33-1 of the Posts and Electronic Communications Code.

        The economy modernisation law also includes an operational measure to allow cities and their groupings to implement the principle of shared use of public civil engineering infrastructures by operators established by the law of 5 March 2007. And finally, the law confirms the principle of access to France Telecom’s sub-loop.

        Members of CRIP will work on means to implement these measures.

        - An initial review of municipality initiatives

           

        Four years after Article L. 1425-1 of the Code Général des Municipalities Territoriales was adopted, the economy modernisation law assigned to ARCEP the mission of conducting an initial review of the intervention of municipalities. This report must be submitted to Parliament and to the Government by 31 December 2008. A seminar involving CRIP members will be held in the autumn to prepare this review.