ARCEP publishes the opinion submitted to the Prime Minister on the national ultra-fast broadband programme.

Paris, 15 June 2010

In response to a request from the Prime Minister, on 18 February of this year ARCEP submitted an opinion on the national ultra-fast broadband programme. The goal of this government programme is to encourage and support ultra-fast broadband network rollouts across the country to prevent a digital divide from forming. With this in mind, and following guidelines set by the President of the Republic, it was decided to devote 2 billion euros to supporting ultra-fast broadband rollout projects initiated by either operators or local authorities.

The government has just made public the details of this ultra-fast broadband programme , and ARCEP is pleased to see that it has taken the majority of the observations that the Authority had made into account.

  • Observations made by ARCEP in its opinion of 18 February 2010

The observations formulated by ARCEP were aimed in particular at:

- guaranteeing even coverage for ultra-fast broadband rollouts to avoid "lasting gaps in coverage," while protecting the rights of operators and co-property owners;

- ensuring that the elementary size of the tenders for deployment projects do not create a de facto disadvantage for the smallest operators, notably with respect to the incumbent carrier;

- preventing the selection criteria from weakening competition by creating local monopolies;

- requiring selected operators to issue a call for co-investment for other operators to ensure a lasting state of balanced competition;

- allow local authorities to compensate for areas not covered by private initiative by ensuring a consistent interrelation of the different deployments;

- reaffirming the priority given to FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) deployments to favour the most future-proof rollouts.

  • ARCEP establishes a regulatory framework for FTTH rollouts

On 22 December 2009, in a first decision on the matter, ARCEP defined the principal regulations governing optical fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts. It was based on these regulations that operators published their infrastructure sharing offers applying to more than 80 urban agglomerations (very densely populated areas) in April and June 2010, which concern roughly 800,000 additional homes passed.

To guarantee that the entire country benefits from this momentum, a few days ago ARCEP submitted a draft decision to public consultation which specifies the terms applying to the deployment of new optical fibre networks nationwide (more sparsely populated areas).

The national ultra-fast broadband programme that was launched by the government, and the regulatory framework defined by ARCEP, are both geared to easing FTTH rollouts across the country to be able to provide the entire population with new innovative services, while maintaining the state of healthy competition that currently exists in national electronic communications markets in France.