Paris, 5th June 2015
Having sound and detailed knowledge of the electronic communications networks in their area is a strategic necessity for local authorities that are working to develop their region's digital assets, and is particularly beneficial when drafting their digital blueprints, in accordance with Article L. 1425-2 of the General Local Authorities Code. Good knowledge of existing networks is vital to enabling local authorities to fully assume their role in meeting the objectives of France's Superfast broadband plan: Plan France Très Haut Débit. It is also needed to achieve the best possible coordination between existing infrastructures and public-initiative networks, in keeping with the objectives set out by the European Union.
The "network knowledge" system - provided for by Articles L. 33-7 and D. 98-6-3 of France's Postal and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE) - stipulates that operators must communicate information requested by local authorities within two months, and in a format that allows local authorities to use that information efficiently, i.e. as digital geodata that can be used in geographical information systems (GIS).
In late September 2014, the ARCEP body responsible for settling disputes, legal proceedings and investigations (RDPI) (1), initiated two penalty procedures against operators NC Numericable and Orange for actions that could constitute failures to meet their obligations with respect to this system.
The investigation conducted into the procedure initiated against NC Numericable made it possible to ascertain that this operator did not have all of the required information - on hosting infrastructure and passive equipment - that would allow it to satisfy local authorities' requests for information, in the prescribed format and, second, that it had misunderstood the regulatory obligation to satisfy these requests within two months.
As concerns Orange, the investigation revealed that the operator did not have all of the information on its hosting infrastructure in a DG GIS file format. The Authority nevertheless ascertained that the operator did introduce an action plan in 2009 aimed at vectorizing this information, with a view to meeting its obligations. Moreover, the priorities for these vectorization operations were defined in the "Plan France Très Haut Débit", and were the subject of an investigation by the France Très Haut Débit Coordination committee.
In light of these elements, on 27 May 2015, the RDPI body decided to issue NC Numericable with a formal notice:
- First, to have all of the information on its infrastructure and networks in a DG GIS file format by 29 February 2016, and to provide proof of such. To be able to verify the progress being made by the operations required to meet this obligation on a regular basis, two interim deadlines have also been put into place;
- Second, starting on 29 February 2016, to meet all requests for information within two months of receiving them, by providing the requested information in the prescribed format, and providing proof of such.
Also on 27 May 2015, the RDPI body decided to make legally binding the commitments that Orange already made as part of the Plan France Très Haut Débit. As a result, Orange must have all of the information on its hosting infrastructure available in digital geodata GIS file format by 30 June 2015 for 16 departments, and for all of the remaining departments by 31 December 2015, in accordance with the deadlines that Orange set for vectorizing its data, as part of the Plan France Très haut débit in 2014 and, second, to provide the RDPI body with proof that it has met these deadlines.
If these operators fail to comply with the decisions that concern them, within the set timeframe, the RDPI body could initiate proceedings against them, and forward the case to the restricted body which has the power to impose penalties, should they be warranted, which, under CPCE Article L. 36-11, include fines.
The decisions, which have been expurgated of any information protected by business confidentiality when applicable, will be published at a later date.
(1) In accordance with these texts, ARCEP's Executive Board has been organised into three distinct bodies. The plenary body, which includes all seven members of the Board. One body (referred to in French as "RDPI") which is responsible for settling disputes, legal proceedings and investigations: initiating the procedure, issuing formal notices, notifying the statement of objections, composed of four of the seven members of the Board, including the Chairman. And a third, so-called restricted body composed of the three other members of the Board, which deliberates on decisions to impose or not impose penalties.