ARCEP publishes a study on the WiFi market in France, raises the experimental character of the public RLAN networks and reviews their technical conditions of use

Paris, 11 May 2007

Since their opening to the public in early 2003, public networks using RLAN technologies, and WiFi in particular, have benefited from an experimental framework separate from the general regime applied to electronic communications operators.

This measure, combined with eased regulatory and technical requirements, encourages experimentation of the technology and the deployment of public RLAN networks. In 2007, over 210 WiFi operators were registered with ARCEP.

The Lignes Directrices relatives à l’expérimentation de réseaux ouverts au public utilisant la technologie RLAN (RLAN technology experimentation guidelines) published in 2002 and modified in 2003, included a review of the experiments with players in order to upgrade the regulatory framework applicable to these networks.

  • Review of the development of WiFi in France

So, in the second half of 2006, ARCEP ordered a study from the firm SagaTel to evaluate the maturity of the use of WiFi-RLAN technologies in public networks and to review the offers currently available on the market. This survey provided a technical and economic overview of the experiments conducted since 2003. ARCEP is now making this study public. Interested parties are invited to share their comments.

The study confirmed growing interest on the part of players in the use of high-speed RLAN and the maturity of the technology, whose use has seen considerable growth since the beginning of the experiments. This growth can be explained by the involvement of operators and industrialists, by the attraction of users to this high-speed connection medium and by a series of technical and regulatory developments (opening of a new frequency band, easing of geographic restrictions).

At end 2006, the market is structured in three segments:

- private RLAN uses in the home or business, which were excluded from the scope of the study

- an Internet access market from "hot spots"

- a rural market, where WiFi technology is generally used to complement other access technologies and has been proposed by both local operators and municipalities since 2004

The emergence of new players, specialising progressively in paid services for specialised targets (university residences, shops, leisure infrastructures, ports, rural service, etc.), participates in the dynamism and wealth of the RLAN market in France, just as the diffusion of the WiFi technology does in the high-speed ADSL access offer.

Thus, public RLAN and WiFi technology have reached a sufficient degree of maturity that the experimental character which has been applied since late 2002 can be ended.

  • The raising of the experimental character

The experimental character which allowed the public RLAN networks to enjoy a lightened regime suited to this new technology, resulting from corporate networks, for local external coverage projects. This derogation regime, which was justified during the experimentation period of public networks using the RLAN technology, is no longer relevant.

ARCEP is announcing the raising of the experimental character of these networks based on the analysis of the WiFi market in France and in accordance with decision no.°07-0408 dated 26 April 2007 putting an end to the experimental regime of public networks using the RLAN technology.

The switch to a long-lasting framework subjects WiFi operators to the respect of obligations, applicable to any electronic communications operator in accordance with articles D.98 et seq. of the CPCE.

ARCEP reminds readers than operators with annual sales of less than €1 million are exempt from the administrative tax, which helps to increase the dynamism and diversity of new local public network RLAN projects.

  • Review of technical conditions of use of "WiFi" frequencies

ARCEP also reminds readers that the use of RLAN technologies in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands is free but subject to the strict respect of power limitations, expressed in EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power), which is reviewed in the attached appendix. These limitations are established at the European level, and their purpose is to technically protect the coexistence of applications by reducing the risk of interference.

ARCEP highlights that the opening of a new frequency band (5470-5725 MHz) for public RLAN applications in February 2006, with never-before-seen power levels on free usage bands (1 W), offers a new tool to players wishing to propose new collection solutions of high-speed local loop networks.

The entire technical and regulatory measure governing RLAN is now in place to allow the long-lasting development of the technology while taking into account the specific nature of this high-speed access radio market.

 


 

 

APPENDIX: EIRP LIMITS IN THE 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz BANDS

Wireless access installations, including radio local networks (RLAN) are broadband radio systems which allow wireless access to public and private applications regardless of the underlying network topology.

The tables below present the frequencies whose use is permitted indoors and out and those whose use is permitted indoors only. They present the conditions of use of the frequencies of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands according to the sub-bands.

The powers are expressed in EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power).

  • EIRP limits in the 2.4 GHz band

In all Metropolitan France départements:

Frequencies
on MHz

Indoors

Outdoors

2400

 



2454

100 mW

100 mW

2483.5

10 mW

Déplacez le curseur pour consulter le contenu du tableau


In Overseas départements or territorial units:

Guadeloupe, Martinique,
St  Pierre et Miquelon, Mayotte , Réunion and Guyana

Frequencies in MHz

Indoors

Outdoors

2400



 2483.5

100 mW

100 mW

Déplacez le curseur pour consulter le contenu du tableau

  • EIRP limits in the 5 GHz band

Outdoors and indoors

Frequency bands

Maximum authorised average EIRP limit

Maximum authorised average EIRP density

Attenuation techniques

5470-5725 MHz band

1 W with transmitter power regulation*

 

500 mW without transmitter power regulation*

50 mW/MHz in entire 1 MHz band with transmitter power regulation*

 

25 mW/MHz in entire 1 MHz band without transmitter power regulation*

Obligation to put in place attenuation techniques**

Déplacez le curseur pour consulter le contenu du tableau

Indoors only

Frequency bands

Maximum authorised average EIRP limit

Maximum authorised average EIRP density

Attenuation techniques

5150-5250 MHz band

200 mW

0.25 mW in entire 25 kHz band

no obligation

5250-5350 MHz band

200 mW with transmitter power regulation*

 

100 mW without transmitter power regulation*

10 mW/MHz in entire 1 MHz band with transmitter power regulation*

 

5 mW/MHz in entire 1 MHz band without transmitter power regulation*

Obligation to put in place attenuation techniques**

Déplacez le curseur pour consulter le contenu du tableau

*Transmitter power control (TPC): Wireless access installations including wireless local networks (WAS/RLAN) operating in the 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz bands must provide, on average, attenuation of at least 3 dB on the maximum authorised output power of the installations, using a transmitter power control mechanism. If this transmitter power control mechanism is not used, the authorised maximum average EIRP and the density limits of the corresponding average EIRP for the 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz bands are reduced by 3 dB.

**Attenuation techniques (DFS): Wireless access installations including wireless local networks (WAS/RLAN) operating in the 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz use a dynamic frequency selection (DFS) feature as described in version 1.3.1 (2005-08), or later, of the harmonised standard EN 301 893 of ETSI or an equivalent feature, guaranteeing as a minimum, for other applications authorised in the concerned band, in particular radiopositioning systems, a degree of protection identical to that offered by the harmonised standard. Wireless access systems including wireless local networks (WAS/RLAN) must in no case transmit on channels occupied by another system, especially by a radiopositioning system used by the Ministry of Defence. These attenuation techniques equalise the probability of selecting a specific channel for all available channels, in order to guarantee, on average, an almost uniform distribution of the spectrum load.