Paris, 5 July 2018
For Arcep, 2017 was the year that it served as Chair of BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications), and so marked by the role it played in helping drive forward the work being done in Europe on building a Gigabit Society, and on net neutrality.
At the national level, Arcep’s pro-investment regulation proved fruitful once again last year: through the size of their investments in fixed and mobile infrastructures, operators demonstrated that they could meet French people’s expectations of nationwide access to competitive infrastructures.
Two flagship tools came to flesh out the regulators’ toolkit last year, in keeping with a data-driven approach to regulation: “Mon réseau mobile” (My mobile network), a map-based tool for obtaining a targeted assessment of each operator’s mobile coverage and quality of service performance, and “J’alerte l’Arcep”, a user reporting platform that allows anyone to inform the regulator of malfunctions they have experienced with their fixed, mobile or postal operator.
2017: Arcep’s strategic roadmap and new regulatory methods are yielding positive results
In January 2016, Arcep presented the conclusions of its strategic review in the form of a roadmap: four pillars of action, three new regulatory methods and twelve priority courses of action. After two years of implementation, it is now time to see whether it has yielded results.
Actions and results of the four pillars identified in the strategic roadmap:
1. investment in infrastructures
· Operators’ investments: €9.6 billion in 2017, a record high
In 2016, Arcep unveiled its pro-investment doctrine and the regulatory actions for putting it into effect. At the heart of this framework: fostering a virtuous circle that encourages operators to invest in infrastructure, through competition, and which stimulates the monetisation of those investment efforts. Two years later, on 22 May 2018 Arcep delivered the results of this doctrine at its annual “Telconomics” event, to financial reporters and analysts: operators invested €9.6 billion in 2017, which marks a 36% increase in three years.
· New Deal for mobile: an unprecedented initiative to achieve new connectivity targets
An historic agreement between the Government, Arcep and operators, the New Deal for mobile is a collective drive to make up for France’s lost time in achieving 4G coverage. A paradigm shift to which Arcep was a major contributor throughout 2017.
· Mobile network sharing: the Conseil d’Etat supports Arcep’s actions
In 2016, operators amended their roaming contracts following the publication of Arcep’s guidelines on roaming and mobile network sharing. In response to complaints filed by Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile, the Conseil d’Etat upheld Arcep’s actions in late 2017. Actions whose purpose is to provide operators with incentives to invest in their infrastructures.
2. Connected territories
· Strengthen fibre regulation
Regulation has come to strengthen every stakeholders’ ability to take action with respect to fibre, publically-funded networks and Orange competitors. In the business market, new obligations designed to enable a mass market for fibre to emerge for small and medium enterprises have been imposed, and are starting to be put into effect.
· Creation of a superfast wireless window
To provide superfast Internet access in those parts of the country that will not be covered by fibre in the short term, Arcep decided to allocate the 3410-3460 MHz band to stakeholders involved in regional digital development, for their superfast wireless rollouts.
· Universal postal service: a new trajectory for La Poste
As the number of postal items is in a state of inexorable decline, the maximum tariffs that Arcep set for
2019 – 2022 will allow the universal service to maintain its financial equilibrium. It distributes the burden between the company and consumers, and provides La Poste with clarity on pricing which will be useful when planning its future development and its transformation.
3. Open Internet
· Implementing Open Internet Regulation
Fierce protector of net neutrality, Arcep has worked to ensure that the networks operate properly and remain open, through improved market monitoring and by lifting several restrictions imposed on operators. Arcep is also stimulating development through an ecosystem of reliable, crowdsourced quality of service measuring tools for users. At the European level, and on the impetus of France’s Chairmanship of BEREC, cooperation between regulators has been reinforced. Meanwhile, international cooperation was marked by a joint statement and an MoU between BEREC and India’s regulator, TRAI.
· Devices (smartphones, voice assistants…), weak links in achieving an open Internet: a period of investigation, a complete analysis and 12 proposed courses of action
Arcep performed an in-depth and unprecedented investigation into devices (smartphones, voice assistants) and the open Internet. This work resulted in the publication of a report that was submitted to France’s Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, to help further the debate taking place in France and Europe on the ways in which devices influence users’ freedom of choice on the Internet. A series of proposals were made for remedying the fact that, in several respects, devices appeared to be weak links in achieving an open Internet.
4. A pro-innovation prism
· 5G: preparatory work and launch of “full scale” pilot projects
To enable businesses and industry players to seize the opportunities attached to 5G, in early 2018 Arcep opened a 5G pilot window for assigning frequencies to stakeholders wanting to perform full-scale 5G pilot trials (ports, hospitals, connected roadways…) and begin planning their future business models. The first use case are beginning to emerge.
· Start-ups and innovators: creating a regulatory sandbox, permanent presence at Station F and pitchfest at Vivatech
Arcep is participating in the drive by all public sector stakeholders to enable innovation. Among the initiatives put into place, the Authority is providing companies wanting to test a technology or an innovative service with a regulatory sandbox, with more relaxed obligations than usual. Arcep’s permanent presence at Station F is a key venue for promoting this mechanism to start-ups.
Arcep’s 2017 milestones on the three new forms of regulatory intervention identified in the strategic roadmap:
1. Building data-driven regulation
“Mon réseau mobile”: a heavy dose of transparency
Arcep has required every operator to produce new coverage maps that create a distinction between four levels of coverage: very good, good, limited and none, for both voice and texting services. In September 2017, Arcep launched monreseaumobile.fr, a map-based site that allows users to compare operators’ performance in a specific location, with an accuracy of up to 50 metres. So a heavy dose of transparency to provide users with the information they need to choose their operator, no longer based only on price, but also on network performance.
“J’alerte l’Arcep”: empowering users, keeping the regulator informed
Open to consumers, local authorities and businesses alike, this reporting platform that launched in October 2017 allows anyone to inform Arcep of any malfunctions they have encountered in their relationship with their fixed, mobile or postal operator. Hence a way to have users’ experience influence market regulation, as well as an accurate monitoring tool for obtaining a view of recurring issues and surges in user reports in real time.
2. Co-constructing regulation
Users, operators, enterprises and start-ups, local authorities, parties involved in measuring fixed and mobile quality of service: Arcep has worked to develop forums for dialogue with each, to obtain feedback from all and so work together on constructing regulation.
There were two plenary conferences of the Forum for discussions between Arcep, local authorities, affected government agencies and operators (GRACO) in 2017: one on the digital transition of SoHos and SMEs, and the other on accelerating the pace of fixed and mobile connectivity deployments across the country. Arcep also hosted dedicated workshops, and travelled extensively out into the field.
3. Serving as a neutral expert in digital and postal affairs
Arcep is regularly called upon by Parliament and the Government to advise on issues regarding the networks it regulates. Since the adoption of the Act on Economic Growth, Business and Equal Opportunity in 2015, the Government has had the ability to request Arcep’s opinion on any matter that falls under its purview. In 2017, Arcep submitted an opinion to the Senate on the rollout model for fibre in France.
|A three-volume annual report: three facets of Arcep’s actions|
For the second year in a row, and in accordance with the Independent Authorities Act (Loi sur les Autorités administratives indépendantes, AAI) adopted in January 2017, Arcep publishes its annual report in three volumes:
. Volume 1 “Arcep and regulated markets” (pdf - 8.34 Mo)provides and update on Arcep’s responsibilities, and the actions and decisions carried out in 2017. It also details Arcep’s European and international activities, which have contributed to the building of Europe and the promotion of French telecoms regulation.
. Volume 2 “Regulation in support of connected territories” (pdf - 7.61 Mo) is devoted to Arcep’s actions in support of regional connectivity, and is the new version of the document that was previously entitled “GRACO proceedings“. This document is addressed to elected officials, local authority and operator representatives, and was published to coincide with the plenary conference that Arcep hosted for them last December.
. Volume 3 “The State of the Internet in France” (pdf - 7.91 Mo) complies with European Open Internet Regulation which requires Arcep, and all national regulatory authorities, to publish an annual report on their audits of net neutrality and their findings. This report also complies with the obligation set out in the Independent Authorities Act for Arcep to include “issues relating to neutrality and the use of IPv6 technologies” in its annual report”. Published on 5 June, it was presented to the media and digital ecosystem experts at a dedicated press conference.