ARCEP launches a public consultation on the operational processes for accessing fibre to the home networks.

Paris, 15 July 2014

Working to achieve national harmonisation to increase the chances of commercial success for fibre networks nationwide

The pace of shared optical local loop rollouts has increased considerably in recent months (38% increase in eligible premises, or 810,000 additional premises passed in 2013) and is expected to continue to do so, especially in the country's more sparsely populated areas. The future development of optical fibre networks, and the successful sale of access products on a large scale will depend in particular on having wholesale and retail markets that are economically and technically homogenous nationwide. It is indeed important that retail market operators be able to offer a single plan nationwide by relying on standardised and liquid wholesale markets.

This homogeneity is not guaranteed, however, since, unlike with the copper local loop, a wide variety of public and private sector undertakings are involved in deploying optical local loops. The number of building operators (1) recorded by ARCEP has increased from five at the end of 2007, including two public initiative networks (PIN), to 34 at the end of 2013, including 28 PIN - and set to increase under the Superfast broadband in France plan (France très haut débit). It is therefore essential that the wholesale market's "industrialisation" continue apace with network rollouts.

This is why ARCEP continues to work within the existing symmetrical regulatory framework , on clarifying the pricing and operational aspects of accessing shared optical local loops, which apply to all operators and across the whole of France. To wit, after holding a public consultation from 16 May to 11 July 2014 on a generic pricing model, the Authority is now submitting a draft symmetrical decision on the operational processes of network sharing to consultation.

A structural response to multiple operational objectives, following through on the work being down between operators

At a time when the sale of FttH network products is accelerating, the goal is to establish a detailed list of all of the processes (exchanging information on eligibility, ordering a line, etc.) to be able to develop and implement a standardised information system between operators. ARCEP prepared this draft decision in concert with the Interop'Fibre group, and with operators which have requested clarifications and an increased level of standardisation. Drawing on a great deal of feedback from the field, this draft document aims to transform best practices that have emerged in the marketplace into specific rules, to avoid disparate information systems from being put into place.

Because of this growing number of building operators, ARCEP believes that a lack of standardisation would create a sizeable risk of FttH network operating costs skyrocketing over the long term, due to the use of multiple interfaces. This could result, ultimately, in sizeable barriers to entry and real difficulties on the marketing end, which would be equally detrimental to operators and end users, both residential customers and businesses.

The main issues addressed in the draft decision are:

- automation of commercial operators' access to the information made available by building operators (requirements in the realm of the availability of information such as a technical description of network access points or address databases, implementing IT tools for order processes, etc.);

- non discrimination between all of the operators that have access to the network including, when applicable, the building operators' services, subsidiaries or partners in instances where the building operator is operating as an ISP (implementing performance indicators that will enable a comparison of the services being provided to the different operators, adjusting the length of the prior notice given to operators before the network is open to trade, etc.);

- entrenching the building operator's responsibilities and creating incentives for efficient management of its network (implementing contractual commitments on delivery times that also carry penalties, obligation of results for line identification, etc.).

The public consultation will run until 26 September 2014.

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(1) The term" building operator" refers to the undertaking that establishes and operates a shared optical fibre local loop.
Established in particular by ARCEP Decisions No. 2009-1106 and 2010-1312 pursuant to Article L.34-8-3 of the French Postal and electronic communications code


Linked documents

The public consultation (pdf - 0.93 Mo) (pdf - in French only)