ARCEP sets aside the returned “E” prefixes

Paris, 7 July 2005

In its consultation on the evolution of numbering launched on 27 October 2004, ARCEP asked for the sector’s opinion on what changes should be made regarding the single-digit ("E") carrier selection prefixes. At issue in the short term were the prefixes which had been returned to ARCEP, i.e. "5" and "6", and the number "2" to be returned in coming months. After considering the responses and consulting the sector, ARCEP has decided not to reassign the returned carrier selection "E" prefixes.


  • A dual format for carrier selection


Two types of numbering resource are currently used for carrier selection: seven single-digit "E" prefixes, and four-digit "16XY" prefixes. The "E" prefixes were all assigned in 1998 for a period of 15 years but some have been returned to ARCEP before the deadline. Since then, ARCEP has received no requests for any of the returned prefixes. Holders of "E" prefixes must respect specific deployment obligations (a number of interconnection points must be deployed per region according to a specific timetable and self-owned transmission capacities must be put in place). For operators wishing to use carrier selection without these obligations, prefixes with the format "16XY" were and are still being allocated.


  • The market is developing in favour of pre-selection


With the development of the telephony market, carrier selection was introduced for local calls, then pre-selection with no need to dial a specific prefix for an operator other than the incumbent. In pre-selection, no prefix has to be dialled so operators can use "E" or "16XY" prefixes indifferently. Finally, pre-selection has had definite and growing success, with 5.4 million lines using pre-selection in the third quarter 2004, up 15.7% over one year.


  • Options left open for the future


In this context, ARCEP has decided not to reassign the "E" prefixes which have been returned for carrier selection (i.e. "5", "6" and "2") and to reserve these resources for future uses. ARCEP will continue to monitor the market’s development and operators’ and users’ needs for this type of resource. At the "E" prefix deadline (in 2013), it will evaluate whether there is a need to prolong the use of this resource for carrier selection.