ARCEP consults players and notifies its draft decision to the European Commission, proposing the removal of regulation on the market for wholesale broadband access offers delivered nationally

Paris, 7 December 2006

As part of its analysis process for the high-speed services market, Autorité de Régulation des Communications électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) is notifying the European Commission today of its draft decision proposing the removal of regulation on the market for wholesale broadband access offers delivered nationally. At the same time, this draft decision is also being submitted for a public consultation.

• The transitional obligations imposed in 2005

In its decision dated 28 July 2005, ARCEP stated that the market for wholesale offers delivered nationally should receive ex ante regulation even though it was not included in the list of relevant markets defined by the European Commission.

The aim of regulation was to discourage any anti-competitive behaviour by the incumbent operator. This regulation was lighter than the regulatory constraints which had weighed on France Telecom under the old regulatory framework, and was imposed for a transitional period of one year.

In accordance with the observations expressed by the European Commission at the time, ARCEP must now re-examine its analysis, as the regulation’s term is ending.

• Raising regulation on this market

ARCEP considers that the market for wholesale broadband offers delivered nationally has developed significantly since the summer of 2005:

- alternative operators have deployed at the regional level and the capillarity of the networks has increased

- the wholesale markets for unbundled access to the local loop and broadband offers delivered regionally have also developed

- the Internet market has been consolidated considerably, with numerous buyouts, mergers and acquisitions between France Telecom’s competitors

- competition has grown, as shown by the presence of wholesale broadband access offers as alternatives to that of France Telecom delivered nationally

All these factors lead ARCEP to conclude that the time has come to remove ex ante regulation on the market for wholesale broadband offers delivered nationally.

• The implementation timetable

At the same time, the draft decision is also being submitted to a public consultation between 6 December 2006 and 20 January 2007. ARCEP will seriously consider all comments received from the Commission, the regulatory authorities of other Member States of the European Union and market players before taking its final decision.

Comments must be sent to ARCEP before 20 January 2007, preferably via e-mail.