Paris, 12 May 2010
Following a first period of consultation, from 17 December 2009 to 15 February 2010, ARCEP published its draft decision on the economic terms governing access to France Telecom local loop civil engineering ducts on 20 April 2010. This document is currently the subject of a public consultation that will last one month.
To help clarify and deepen this period of consultation, ARCEP is, first, providing players today with a proposal of a simplified pricing model and, second, extending the consultation to 27 May 2010.
Furthermore, following the press release issued by the Association of cities and local authorities for electronic communications and audiovisual media, AVICCA (Association des Villes et Collectivités pour les Communications électroniques et l'Audiovisuel), on 21 April 2010, the Authority wanted to provide a more detailed account of the effect that the measures proposed in its draft decision would have in terms of ultra-fast broadband coverage across the country. These elements are also being made public.
The Authority's response to AVICCA
Paris, 7 May 2010
Dear Mr. President,
In a press release dated 21 April 2010, you expressed AVICCA's position on a draft decision that defines the economic terms governing access to France Telecom local loop civil engineering ducts, which ARCEP submitted to public consultation on 20 April.
In your press release you state that "the regulator proposes that cost be proportionate to volume, and therefore to the length of duct occupied. Naturally, the more sparsely populated an area is, the longer the cable will be". Which led you to pose the following question: "Does this mean that ultra-fast broadband will be twice as costly to deploy in sparsely populated areas than in cities?"
In other words, your understanding is that, unlike the price-setting method adopted for the copper network, the draft decision does not allow for tariff balancing between densely and less densely populated parts of the country, which could result in more costly rollouts for less densely populated areas when compared to densely populated areas.
Without bringing prejudice to the amendments that may result from the ongoing public consultation, I would like to provide you with certain factual details today to avoid any misunderstanding on the objectives, content and effects of this draft decision. Indeed, I believe that, sharing as we do the goal of achieving the harmonious development of ultra-fast broadband across the country in the coming years, ARCEP has, contrary to the assertion, consistently worked to take full account of regional interests.
As a result, ARCEP proposes a solution that combines several technical parameters to be able to reach a balanced decision, particularly with respect to the dual objective of effective competition and nationwide ultra-fast broadband coverage.
While it may at first glance appear to offer simple volume-based pricing, the system planned for in the draft decision is in reality based on cost allocation in three distinct stages, each of which meets a complementary set of objectives:
- first, the overall cost of local loop civil engineering ducts is allocated between copper-based subscribers and fibre-based subscribers, prorated by the number of active customers which, on the one hand, provides the guarantee of a smooth technological transition for subscribers and, on the other, avoids any items being counted twice, to comply with the obligation of cost-oriented pricing;
- second, the cost allocated to fibre is distributed between the transport segment and the distribution segment, and it is this essential step that makes it possible to neutralise cost differences between densely populated and sparsely populated areas and which leads, ultimately, to having a per-household cost in less densely populated areas that is below the average cost. This distinction also enables consistent treatment of depletions on these segments;
- and, third, the thus-calculated transport and distribution costs are distributed between operators according to the volumes they occupy, the goal being to encourage them to make efficient use of the civil engineering resource.
As you can see, the combination of these different mechanisms will result, at the very least, in a homogenous distribution of costs nationwide, regardless of the population density in the area in question and, in all likelihood, in a below-average cost in more sparsely populated areas once several operators have deployed their own networks in very densely populated areas. The draft decision that was submitted to public consultation is therefore one that will have a positive effect on the more sparsely populated parts of the country.
This letter, which is in response to your press release of 21 April 2010 will, like the press release, be made public.
My colleagues and I would be pleased to meet with you to discuss this topic, and any other issue for which ARCEP is responsible and which is of interest to your association.
Mr. Yves ROME