Paris, 15 February 2008
Legislators included in the postal regulation law of 2005 the principle of equal access to mailboxes between authorised postal operators and the universal service provider, La Poste.
Already in 2004-2005, postal operators complained of difficulties in gaining access to mailboxes in residential apartment buildings having opted for permanently restricted access. New entrants on the market complained of a discriminatory situation with respect to La Poste which had means to enter all apartment buildings.
It quickly became clear that to restore the equity desired by the law, a technical analysis of the situation would be necessary.
In November 2006, ARCEP initiated discussions with all players concerned by the problem of access to mailboxes. In addition to the distribution operators directly concerned—authorised postal operators, press delivery services, parcel distributors—property professionals also contributed to the work.
These discussions helped to establish a diagnosis, highlighted the complexity and variety of situations and raised other questions which are not under ARCEP’s jurisdiction, which is limited to access to mailboxes for operators holding a postal authorisation.
In late November 2007, ARCEP launched a public consultation in order to share its analysis of the situation, collect as many points of view as possible and to come up with solutions.
Like other service providers, authorised postal operators and press delivery services face increasing difficulties in gaining access to mailboxes in apartment buildings. La Poste has developed the so-called "Vigik" system which provides a technical response to the needs of residents and operators but whose use, on a mail distribution market open to competition, raises the question of access to many service providers and creates a situation which protects long-time and well-known providers (such as La Poste, EDF, France Telecom, etc.). Furthermore, other controlled access systems have also been installed.
Twenty-three contributions were received from distribution operators, apartment building owner-manager representatives and public housing bodies, as well as from consumer associations and from manufacturers and installers of access equipment.
ARCEP’s summary highlights the need to reconcile:
- the concern for the security and tranquillity of residents, who want to maintain control over access to their residential apartment buildings
- the rules of competition between several categories of operator: for example, between postal operators which distribute only postal items, postal operators which also distribute direct mail and other operators which distribute only direct mail
- equal access to mailboxes for postal operators and press distribution services, under the conditions established by the law, the only subject on which ARCEP can legitimately intervene
A short-term solution and work which must continue
ARCEP is pleased to report that a short-term solution allowing immediate access for authorised postal operators has finally been found. This solution allows them, using equal methods (that is, by sharing the same identification code in the Vigik system), to gain access to mailboxes installed in apartment buildings equipped with this system.
The consultation also spotlighted the need to set up new governance for the Vigik system based on equitable and transparent operating rules and to allow the emergence of long-term solutions.
ARCEP also reiterates the need to adopt in the near future the application decree of Article L.5-10 which is to set the limits within which authorised operators can access mailboxes to distribute postal items.
Finally, the consultation gave players the opportunity to raise other questions which are not under ARCEP’s jurisdiction, such as access for emergency services or how to improve the flexibility of access systems (for example, to add or delete service providers who are permitted or no longer permitted to enter an apartment building). In the longer term, the consultation should allow all these players to take the necessary decisions in the best interest of all concerned. ARCEP will continue to follow any further action which might be taken by the parties directly involved.