ARCEP launches five administrative inquiries into mobile network rollouts and the quality of operators' wireline services 

Paris, 27 May 2014

One of ARCEP's responsibilities is to ensure that operators comply with their obligations, in accordance with the objectives set out by the legislator.

As such, it has the power to impose penalties - a power recently restored by the Order of 12 March 2014, after the Constitutional Council had censured the previous legal provision in July 2013. The Authority also has the power to conduct administrative inquiries.

This, then, is the framework for the five decisions to open an administrative inquiry into the quality of wireline services and mobile network rollouts, issued today by the recently-formed ARCEP body responsible for such proceedings. These inquiries that concern the firms Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR, will enable ARCEP to gather the information and documentation needed to ensure that these operators are meeting their obligations and, if necessary, to conduct investigations on the spot.

Inquiry into Free Mobile concerning the deployment of its 3G network

Free Mobile is required to cover 75% of the population of Metropolitan France by 12 January 2015, not counting its roaming on the Orange network. As part of the careful verifications that ARCEP has been performing to ensure that Free is on an investment path that is compatible with achieving this target, the Authority decided to launch an inquiry to ascertain whether Free Mobile is employing all of the means necessary to meet its obligation, and to assess any obstacles the rollouts might encounter.

Inquiry into the firms Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR, concerning 3G rollouts in rural areas

Prompted by the legislator seeking to facilitate 3G coverage in white spots, back in 2010 Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR committed, under the aegis of ARCEP, to deploying a shared 3G network in some 3,500 rural communities by the end of 2013. Free Mobile later committed to joining this shared network as well. Having noted that the first three operators had achieved only 25% of the programme, and to ensure that Free Mobile take the necessary steps to join them, ARCEP decided to launch an inquiry into Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR.

Inquiry into the firm SFR concerning the deployment of its 3G network

To meet its final 3G network rollout obligation, SFR must cover 99.3% of the population. ARCEP decided to launch an inquiry to check that the operator has indeed met this obligation.

Inquiry into the firm Orange concerning the quality of regulated offers for the enterprise market

For close to a year, there has been a significant drop in the quality of wholesale services aimed at the enterprise market. Orange has cited extraordinary weather conditions in 2013 - including an increase in the number of storms and floods - as the main reason for the decline. As a result, ARCEP deemed it necessary to launch an administrative inquiry to gather from Orange, and the alternative operators that are its clients, the evidence needed to confirm the origin of these malfunctions, and to assess whether the actions that Orange has taken since then will allow the carrier to improve the quality of its services rapidly.

Inquiry into the firm Orange concerning the quality of the universal service

Having noted that certain quality of service indicators being reported by the firm Orange, which provides the universal telephone service in France, did not meet the objectives laid out for the carrier, ARCEP decided to initiate an inquiry to gather from Orange all of the information and documentation relating to its compliance with these targets.