Paris, 29 September 2009
The public-initiative networks committee, CRIP (Comité des réseaux d’initiative publique), which was created by ARCEP in late 2004, is a forum for dialogue between local authorities, electronic communications operators and other parties involved in regional digital development.
Technical groups composed of public and private sector players meet on a regular basis throughout the year. An annual plenary session provides an opportunity for elected officials and ARCEP to assess the work performed up until then and to set the programme for the coming year.
The committee’s fifth plenary session was held on 29 September 2009.
- Assessment of the work performed by local authorities in 2008-2009
Local authorities continue to take a proactive approach to electronic communications through public-initiative networks (réseaux d’initiative publique or RIP). 189 projects have been declared to date, including 68 major operational undertakings – each covering more than 60,000 inhabitants and representing a total investment of over 2.1 billion euros.
The most noteworthy points concerning local authorities’ actions are as follows.
- In late 2008, at the request of Parliament, ARCEP produced a first assessment of local authority actions. It helped demonstrate the positive impact that public-initiative networks had had on the broadband market. For instance: by the end of 2008, it was a public-initiative network that had made LLU possible in close to 40% of the country’s unbundled exchanges.
- We are on the verge of a transition: the "traditional" public-initiative network model which has been applied since 2004 – aimed at increasing broadband coverage and competition – is expected to reach its limit in the coming years as unbundling continues to make strides. This development does not, however, call into question ongoing collection network rollouts as they remain key to enabling local authorities to build an efficiently meshed regional network.
- Local authorities are now focused on the process of increasing network speeds and rolling out ultra-fast networks nationwide. The solutions employed for increasing bitrates over the copper network (which are the focus of an ARCEP report) can help optimise the existing network and pave the way for optical fibre network rollouts. A great many local authorities want to be involved in these rollouts by making it easier for operators to do business in their region, by preparing balanced regional development schemes between public and private investment, or by deploying FTTH networks themselves – the goal being to prevent a new digital divide from forming.
- Lastly, new tools have been or will soon be made available to local authorities that allow them to implement their plans, whether knowledge-based (network information and service coverage decrees), strategic (regional development guidelines) or relating to project implementation (partnership agreements, local authorities as minority shareholders, etc.).
- The necessary expansion of CRIP
Over the past five years, CRIP has proven its usefulness as a forum for discussing best practices, and for interaction between local authorities that have instigated projects and operators, under the auspices of ARCEP.
The concerns of local authorities nevertheless go beyond just public-initiative networks, and they want to be as closely involved as possible with the regulatory decisions that affect regional digital development. This is why, at the latest plenary meeting, the Chairman of ARCEP suggested that CRIP be expanded in two ways. First its scope of involvement would increase to include both fixed and mobile communications and, second, the way it operates would be improved: regular interim meetings would be held between the frequent technical group meetings and the annual plenary meeting.
Finally, in light of these developments, the Chairman of ARCEP suggested that CRIP become the central forum for discussions between ARCEP, local authorities and operators.
- Work programme for the coming year
The work performed in the coming year is expected to centre around three main areas.
- Stimulate the completion of mobile coverage, both 2G and 3G. Following the 2G coverage status report published this past summer, ARCEP will release its report on the status of 3G coverage this autumn, and so provide an additional knowledge and decision-making tool to complement the decision issued in April to implement 3G infrastructure sharing in the parts of the country that include, at least, those areas covered by the national 2G dead zone eradication programme.
- Complete the examination of the technical solutions for increasing the bitrates delivered by the copper network. A public consultation on the topic will begin in October, based on initial findings. The results of this consultation will be made available before the end of the year, and the Authority will draft recommendations based on these results in early 2010.
- Continue the work begun on fixed and mobile ultra high-speed networks. As concerns optical fibre network rollouts, efforts will be devoted to defining the technical terms of fibre infrastructure sharing outside of very densely populated areas, where the shared access point will be located in the horizontal portion of the network. The first meetings made it possible to pinpoint the legal and technical aspects of infrastructure sharing, in a environment that encourages shared investments between players. On the matter of ultra high-speed mobile, local authorities are now more involved in preparing the terms for future LTE network deployments – which must have balanced regional development as their ultimate priority – and are dedicated to completing the public consultation on this issue by the end of the year.
At the outcome of the meeting, ARCEP published its assessment of the work performed by CRIP in 2008-2009 (pdf - 2.22 Mo), which is available for download (in French only )