Arcep consultation on a draft recommendation on consistent FttH network rollouts

Paris, 30 March 2018

Today, Arcep is launching a public consultation on a draft recommendation on consistent fibre to the home (FttH) network rollouts. As announced in an opinion issued on 23 October 2017, at the request of the Senate (1), the purpose of this draft recommendation is, first, to clarify how the current regulatory framework should be interpreted and, second, to share Arcep's views of the actions that operators need to take regarding FttH deployments, to ensure proper coordination of the fibre rollouts being performed by all of the public and private sector stakeholders involved.

Arcep has identified threats to the goal of achieving consistent rollouts

The information that Arcep has at its disposal raises concerns that some of operators' rollout practices could undermine the goal of achieving consistent deployments. In particular, Arcep notes:

- 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 quicker rollouts;

- 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 skimming, 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 Act, particularly the goal to stimulate investment and regional digital development.

Arcep is proposing tools to prevent these practices and to mobilise all of the stakeholders' industrial capacity efficiently

The tools put into place by the regulatory framework should have enabled operators to prevent these situations from arising. To ensure that operators make full use of these tools, Arcep is proposing to provide stakeholders with a more detailed framework, through the draft recommendation being published today for consultation, notably by clarifying the modalities for meeting consistent rollout obligations.

The purpose of this draft recommendation is to enable infrastructure operators to better plan and coordinate their rollouts. Arcep thus plans to work alongside operators and ensure a better mobilisation of each one's industrial capacities, to achieve the efficient and consistent deployment of new optical fibre networks.

The text serves to complement the enforceable commitments made by operators

By encouraging operators to take action and by providing technical clarifications (2), these recommendations serve to complement the enforceable commitments that operators have indicated they want to propose to the Government, 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), and on which Arcep would be consulted, in accordance with Article L.33-13 of the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE). This article stipulates that operators can propose commitments to the Government that will further regional development and coverage, after having obtained Arcep's opinion 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.

The public consultation will run until the end of May

Arcep invites all of the public and private sector stakeholders involved in regional digital development to share their feedback on this draft recommendation. The deadline for contributions is 15 May 2018.

On 4 April, Arcep will be hosting its spring GRACO technical meeting (pdf - 396 Ko), (GRACO is the forum for discussions between Arcep, local authorities and operators). A roundtable will be devoted to the draft recommendation, and will help further Arcep's work on these issues.