Paris, 26 July 2007
Access to ducts
Digging trenches and laying cables to buildings accounts for approximately two thirds of the cost of rolling out the optical fibre local loop. In less densely built-up areas, the cost of such civil engineering work is higher and rapidly becomes prohibitive.
France Telecom is currently the ducts which were laid by the former Post and Telecommunications Administration in order to build the telephone network. A certain number of these ducts are not occupied and could be used to roll out high-speed broadband networks.
The former telephone service monopoly has therefore given France Telecom a major advantage as far as the development of high-speed broadband networks is concerned. Against this, it is unlikely that competition will be able to develop in smaller towns if alternative operators are required to replicate all the necessary civil engineering work in such localities.
ARCEP is therefore launching a public consultation with respect to the competitive situation concerning access to electronic communications ducts and the possible regulation of this access. The objective of this consultation is to enable all operators to have access to these infrastructures. It would then be possible to achieve fair competition, based on merit, between operators in the rollout of high-speed broadband networks.
The aim of such regulation, focused on these essential infrastructures, would be to encourage investment and to guarantee infrastructure-based competition in the local loop segment. It could reduce the need for asymmetric regulation of the higher network layers and avoid the functional separation which as has been proposed by certain players.
Sharing the terminating segment of fibre networks
Several operators will be needing to create new local loops in order to bring optical fibre not just to buildings, but also in some cases to the communal areas of these buildings and to accomodation units. Plans are already afoot to begin this process in the largest cities in France.
In the long run it does not seem reasonable for each optical local loop operator to have its own dedicated cables and optical connectors in each building and each separate accommodation unit. The proliferation of work involved would cause considerable inconvenience to the building’s occupants and co-owners. However, people must be able to change broadband operator without having to move home.
The terminating segment of fibre networks must therefore be shared by several operators. The second public consultation launched today by ARCEP concerns the technical, financial and legal issues raised by such shared usage. In view of the complexity of this subject, which affects a number of different aspects of the sector, certain questions lie beyond the strict scope of competence of ARCEP and may require changes to the corresponding legal and regulatory framework.
France Telecom, Free and Neuf Cegetel have all submitted proposals for access to the terminating segment of their fibre networks to ARCEP. The public parts of these proposals are attached to the consultation and are therefore available for discussion by other players on the market.
Responses to the consultations
Responses to the two public consultations must be submitted by 28 September 2007 to the email address thd(@)arcep.fr
Both consultations can be downloaded:
The competitive situation concerning access to electronic communications ducts and the possible regulation of this access (pdf (pdf - 278 Ko)- )
and Shared use by operators of the terminating segment of optical fibre local loop networks (pdf (pdf - 4.42 Mo)- )