ARCEP has placed holders of wireless local loop usage authorisations under surveillance

Paris, 15 September 2008

During the summer of 2008, ARCEP monitored the respect as of 30th June 2008 of the deployment obligations appearing in wireless local loop (WLL) frequency usage authorisations for the 3.4-3.6 GHz band issued 25th July 2006.

Holders of authorisations as of 30 June 2008 were monitored. It is important to remember that because of a number of authorisation transfers, the number of authorisation holders for Metropolitan France has practically doubled (19 holders, including 14 municipalities and 5 telcos) compared with the 10 original holders (6 Regional Councils and 4 telcos).

Initial deployments made

Based on elements drawn from holder responses, ARCEP is observing an initial effective deployment of the wireless local loop, with over 500 operational sites, commercial offers and several thousand connected residential and business customers.

However, deployments are still relatively modest and are currently well below commitments taken by the holders in their authorisations.

Furthermore, the situations are very different depending on the geographic area and the holder: while some have fulfilled their obligations, others still have not or have barely begun. Overall, 16 regions have seen initial sites deployed and about one in four départements now has a service offer.

 Constraints and development factors of the wireless local loop

ARCEP also conducted a number of hearings in order to appreciate the circumstances affecting the development of wireless local loop projects in the 3.4-3.6 GHz band and to establish an up-to-date view of the market.

The industrial context

Initial deployments use 802.16d and 802.16e WiMAX technologies. Currently, standard 802.16d is used only by a few local players or industries proposing 802.16d and 802.16e hybrid products. Indeed, at the global level, market players, equipment manufacturers and telcos have all turned to version 802.16e of the WiMAX technology. This technology, arriving through a staggered calendar, allows mobility and announces better performance and economies of scale at the global level, convincing most players including those wanting to offer fixed service. Thus, the modest start-up of deployments can be explained in part by the industrial delay and insufficient maturity of WiMAX 802.16e standard equipment.

So, growth of the wireless local loop in the 3.5 GHz band depends to a large part on the large-scale availability of interoperable 802.16e equipment offering the promised performance. This availability is itself highly dependent on the existence of a global market which projects in France are unable to create on their own.

The position of the wireless local loop in high-speed access

The review conducted with players confirmed that, despite difficulties in getting off the ground, there are projects using two very different major models:

  • A wireless FAI model at the national level for mobile high speed, especially in densely populated areas which should, however, find its place among fixed high-speed and mobile high-speed technologies.
  • A model oriented specifically towards digital regional development, for the coverage of ADSL white areas, in which the wireless local loop is seen as a complementary solution when combined with other technologies. Moreover, the economic balance of this model is consolidated if used in a public initiative network.

ARCEP places holders of wireless local loop usage authorisations under surveillance and organises monitoring of their deployment progress

Based on elements shared by holders during the inspection and an analysis of these elements, ARCEP has decided to put the wireless local loop market under surveillance.

ARCEP is setting up monitoring: holders will report on the progress of their deployments every six months.

This regularly updated information will be published on ARCEP’s web site in the form of a review table and maps which are attached to this press release.

This monitoring of wireless local loop projects will take into account advances at the global level in the industrial development of WiMAX technologies.

This supervision will continue until the next authorisation deployment obligation deadline, scheduled for December 2010.