Communiqué de presse

ARCEP publishes its first report on mobile operators' investment efforts

Paris, 3 December 2015

Act No. 2015-990 of 6 August 2015 on Growth, business and equal economic opportunity, tasks ARCEP with publishing an annual report on mobile operators' investment efforts. Today, the Authority is publishing its first report.

The purpose of the report is to provide an annual snapshot of the status of mobile connectivity in France, and is part of ARCEP's ongoing commitment to transparency. The report is to be enhanced year-on-year, to keep pace with changing usage and technologies, and the challenges created by mobile hyperconnectivity.

Stable and substantial investments

To be able to meet French citizens' growing connectivity needs, operators are engaged in network rollouts across the country, investing in their 2G, 3G and, more recently, 4G systems. Broad and widely available mobile coverage is indeed a key ingredient in digital regional development. As a result, mobile operators invested 2.2 billion euros in these rollouts in 2014.

Ongoing network deployments

The development of 4G is well underway, as much in terms of operators' network rollouts as its adoption by users. The pace of 4G network rollouts has been much faster than previous 2G and 3G deployments - the result being that a large percentage of people in France now have access to superfast mobile services. As of July 2015, Orange was covering 76% of the population with its own 4G network, Bouygues Telecom 72%, Free Mobile 52% and SFR, 39% (1).

However, people in the more sparsely populated parts of France must also receive superfast mobile coverage as soon as possible. Forty percent of the population in these areas must be covered by 17 January 2017: ARCEP will be especially mindful of ensuring that this obligation is met.

As concerns 2G and 3G, the Act on Growth, business and equal economic opportunity recently reaffirmed that operators must have achieved full coverage of all town centres at least in 2G by the end of 2016, and in 3G by mid-2017. ARCEP will employ the utmost vigilance to ensure that operators meet these obligations. In particular, there are some 2,000 town centres that still need to be provided with 3G coverage from all four mobile operators by mid-2017.

The quality of service provided to end users varies from operator to operator

To provide end users with a clear picture of the quality of service that each operator provides, in 2014 ARCEP created an observatory of mobile coverage and quality of service (2). This system of scorecards makes it possible to view the significant differences in quality of service between operators, and to continue to encourage operators to invest, beyond simply meeting their obligations.

(1) SFR customers in fact have access to 4G coverage over a wider portion of the country, thanks to partial use of Bouygues Telecom's 4G network.