Paris, 25 March 2013
The minister responsible for electronic communications having approved the ARCEP decision of 29 January 2013, the Authority has introduced a system for measuring and tracking the quality of fixed internet access services. The aim is to improve the information available to internet users, and to provide ARCEP with the means to fulfil its duty to supervise the overall quality of fixed calling and internet access services. This system is also part of the work and discussions and that ARCEP has been conducting since 2010 on the technical and economic aspects of net neutrality.
To achieve these goals, ARCEP was keen to involve the primary stakeholders in the decision-making process by creating a technical committee made up of operators, of course, along with consumer/user associations (UFC, AFUTT, La quadrature du Net) and experts from INRIA (National institute for research in computer science and control) and AFNIC (French Association for internet domain naming in cooperation).
The new system has two components: main measurements performed in a controlled environment and on dedicated lines, and supplementary measurements performed by users themselves.
The main measurements, which are to be performed by operators, are carried out on dedicated test lines, inside a technically-controlled environment whose conditions make it possible to achieve a high degree of comparison between operators, and a sufficiently broad representation of the various network access conditions that users encounter. The metrics obtained in this fashion concern seven performance indicators: four generic technical indicators (particularly throughput) and three indicators relating to specific types of usage: web browsing, streaming video and peer-to-peer file sharing. These measurements will be carried out separately on fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-last-amplifier (FTTLA) connections, as well as the copper local loop (whose lines will be segmented by transmission capacity).
The supplementary measurements, for which ARCEP will be responsible, will consist of tests that volunteer users will perform using their own equipment. Thanks to a web-based interface, these users will be able to measure their line's performance, and transmit the results to ARCEP. The Authority will thus be able to refer to these supplementary metrics to check that the main measurements are consistent and representative of the user experience.
Specifications were drafted based on the work carried out by the technical committee, and operators are preparing to issue a call for proposals from vendors, to select the one that will perform the measurements on each network.
The thus-obtained metrics will be published each quarter. ARCEP's aim to is to get the system up and running to be able to release the first scorecard in December 2013.
In a report published in February 2013, deputies Corinne Erhel and Laure de La Raudière suggested that mandating ARCEP to select the vendor would further improve the reliability of the resulting performance indicators.
ARCEP decision n° 2013-0004 (pdf - 1.00 Mo) (in French)