Paris, 27 April 2011
Marking the final stage in the process of drafting asymmetrical regulation for the broadband and ultra-fast broadband markets in the coming years, today ARCEP has notified the European Commission on its draft market analysis decision which imposes a number of obligations on incumbent carrier, France Telecom. The European Commission will have a month to formulate any observations, before ARCEP adopts the final version of the texts in early June.
After a series of exchanges with all of the sector's stakeholders - including carriers and local authorities in particular - and after having taken into consideration the observations made by the French Competition authority in its opinion (1) , ARCEP has now notified and submitted to public consultation a draft decision which contains three main objectives.
To reinforce regulation in those areas where competition has the potential to increase
One of the aims of ARCEP's planned regulation is to enable unbundling to progress across the country, including the more sparsely populated areas, so that competition can help to bring the same quality and variety of services nationwide. Furthermore, by setting an ambitious regulatory framework for increasing bandwidth, ARCEP provides local authorities with a new instrument enabling an overhaul of the local copper loop to increase the bandwidth supplied to end users, and so help decrease the digital divide.
To lighten regulation where competition has developed
As recommended by the Competition authority, ARCEP plans on gradually lifting regulation in the most competitive market segments. More specifically, today's draft decision plans of lifting pricing obligations imposed on France Telecom in bitstream access markets in those parts of the country where at least one other operator is competing with the incumbent carrier in this wholesale segment.
To monitor the market's development in a new and changing environment
The pioneer fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts being performed by the different carriers and by several local authorities mark a major turning point for the electronic communications sector.
The legislature's choice of having these fibre deployments governed by symmetrical regulation led the Authority to adopt decisions that impose the same obligations on all operators.
Although ARCEP considers it unnecessary at this stage to impose additional obligations on France Telecom - particularly given the healthy momentum of alternative carriers' deployments, made possible by the existing regulatory framework - it will be especially mindful of ensuring that this momentum continues, including in the less populated regions of France.
To this end, today's draft decision plans on a rendez-vous clause of 18 months which would give time for a clear assessment of how effective the enacted regulation has been and to consider, if necessary, possible amendments to the regulatory framework.
(1) Opinion No. 11-A-05 of 8 March 2011 in response to the request from the Electronic communications and postal regulatory authority (ARCEP) for an opinion concerning the third cycle of analysis of wholesale broadband and ultra-fast broadband markets.
Opinion No. 11-A-05 of 8 March 2011 (pdf - 365 Ko) in response to the request from the Electronic communications and postal regulatory authority (ARCEP) for an opinion concerning the third cycle of analysis of wholesale broadband and ultra-fast broadband markets. (pdf - )