ARCEP releases the results of the audits performed in 2009 to verify the accuracy of the GSM coverage maps published by mobile operators. ARCEP has set the list of the 249 new municipalities to be audited in 2010.

Paris, 17 March 2010

As revealed in the status reports on 2G and 3G mobile coverage published by ARCEP in 2009, mobile networks now cover a very large percentage of the French national territory. Having mobile access nationwide is not only something that consumers expect, but also an important contributor to the country’s economic and regional development.

To achieve the greatest possible degree of transparency with respect to mobile coverage, in March 2006 ARCEP introduced new measures in this area that were applied when it came time to renew operators’ GSM licences. As a result, mobile operators are required to publish their coverage maps and to have them verified by field surveys performed in accordance with a public protocol defined by ARCEP. This field survey protocol (1) is available to the public and can be implemented by any party, either individual or corporate, wanting to perform a new audit in a municipality that has already been audited or to measure coverage in a municipality that has not yet been audited.

Since 2007, operators have been publishing coverage maps whose accuracy is checked each year through field surveys.

These maps are available online at the following addresses:

- http://couverture-reseau.orange.fr;

- http://www.sfr.fr/assistance/reseau-sfr-france;

- http://www.couverture.bouyguestelecom.fr.

The operators are the guarantors of the published maps which depict the outdoor coverage they provide to pedestrians.

More than 750 municipalities have been audited since 2007, the purpose being to check the accuracy of the coverage maps published by mobile operators. These audits are performed by an outside service provider who is selected by the operators and required to adhere to the measurement protocol set by ARCEP.

In 2009, Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom measured coverage in 251 municipalities to check whether their maps matched the reality in the field.

The results of these audits were forwarded to ARCEP in January 2010.

They reveal that the coverage maps published by the three operators match field measurements with an accuracy level of 96% (2). Although the reliability of the maps is generally good at the national level, it still needs to be improved in certain municipalities: ARCEP therefore reminded operators of the need to correct the published maps and has planned for new audits to be performed in 2010, as provided for in Decision No. 2007-0178.

It is encouraging to note that we are beginning to see the effects of the measures that have been taken with operators since 2007 to improve the accuracy of their coverage maps, as the reliability of the maps of audited départements has improved significantly.

Audits will be carried out by operators in 249 new municipalities in 2010.

In its Decision No. ARCEP 2010-0303 of 9 March 2010, ARCEP published the new list of the 249 municipalities to be audited by operators in 2010. This list was established with the goal of being representative of the country as a whole, and by taking account of the correspondence that ARCEP has received from local elected officials and citizens on the topic of mobile coverage. The survey must be completed by the end of October, and the results made available in early 2011.

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1) The system is defined in ARCEP Decision No. 2007-0178, dated 20 February 2007
2) For different reasons which are laid out in detail in the reports on coverage published by ARCEP in 2009, notably uncontrollable variations in radio propagation, it is very difficult to achieve 100% accuracy.