25th February 2010
Alternative electronic communications operators' ability to have access to the France Telecom copper local loop at the neighbourhood cabinet level, thanks to unbundling, has spurred the development of broadband market competition in France for the past ten years or so, and the introduction of some of the least expensive offers in the world, which has been very beneficial to consumers.
There are several possible technical solutions for providing even more consumers with even greater access speeds - fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network rollouts being the most lasting one for most parts of the country.
- In those areas where FTTH rollouts are scheduled to take place in the short or medium term (i.e. the next 3 to 5 years), ARCEP recommends that intermediate sub-loop access projects not be carried out and that public and private sector players focus their efforts and their resources instead on FTTH ultra-fast broadband deployments.
- In those areas where there are no short or medium-term plans for deploying FTTH, ARCEP feels that sub-loop access solutions would make it possible to deliver higher access speeds and can therefore be implemented quickly, notably by local authorities.
By mid-2010, once current technical work has been completed, and in accordance with its regulatory obligations, France Telecom will define its reference offer for bringing DSL signals to the sub-loop.
Sub-loop access could nevertheless reduce the level of competition that has been achieved in the broadband access market, particularly in those areas that are already or will shortly be unbundled. In these areas, then, the terms for implementing sub-loop access need to be defined to limit the likelihood of this happening. To this end, ARCEP will, first, move forward its analysis of the "market for accessing infrastructure that constitutes the local loop" and, second, in tandem with all concerned parties, operators and local authorities, define by summer 2010 the additional measures needed to avoid the potentially detrimental effects on competition that projects to increase access rates could have. ARCEP recommends that, until this work has been completed, market players abstain from undertaking projects to increase access rates in unbundled areas or areas where unbundling efforts have begun.
On the other hand, in those areas that are not unbundled and where there are no plans to introduce it, sub-loop access solutions would have little or no impact on competition and can therefore be implemented immediately.
ARCEP's guidelines (pdf - 87 Ko - ) Summary of the public consultation (pdf - 184 Ko - ) Players contributions n° 1 (Aforst, Avicca, Axione, BluWan, Bouygues Telecom, Colt, Communautés de Braconne et Charente, de la Boucle de la Seine, de l'auxerrois and celle du Pays Voironnais) - (zip - 2,1 Mo - ) Players contributions n° 2 (Les Conseils généraux de l'Essonne, de la Seine-et-Marne et de l'Oise, Covage, Ericsson and Eutelsat) - (zip - 1,9 Mo - ) Players contributions n° 3 (France Télécom - Orange) - (zip - 4 Mo - ) Players contributions n° 4 (Free, Ifotec, Michel Lebon, Niverlan, Numericable, SFR, Sipperec, Sycabel and Xilan) - (zip - 3 Mo - )