Paris, 11 June 2010
Pursuant to the Law on modernising the economy of August 2008, ARCEP defined the regulatory framework for deploying optical fibre in very densely populated areas in France (148 municipalities) in a first decision which entered into force in January 2010.
The draft decision being submitted for public consultation today completes the regulatory framework for the rest of the country, in other words in less densely populated areas which correspond to around 80% of the population. The great diversity of these areas calls for a flexible framework that includes a high degree of sharing and more joint action with local authorities to guarantee homogeneous coverage across the country.
Outline of the draft decision
- Encouraging more sharing between operators
Because of the low population density in the areas covered by this draft decision, the text submitted for consultation recommends that a substantial portion of operators' rollouts be shared. It therefore plans for shared access points (SAP) for grouping around 1,000 lines, with a minimum threshold of 300 lines. This increase in infrastructure sharing will help reduce the cost of fibre rollouts to the premises, while maintaining lasting competition and consumers' ability to choose their service provider freely.
In very densely populated parts of the country, the ROI of the rollouts and the regulatory framework allow each operator to have their own dedicated network end to end. This model guarantees a state of lasting competition between the operators.
In less densely populated areas, a much larger portion of the network needs to be shared. Operators would therefore share the last mile of a single-fibre network.
- Ensuring homogeneous regional coverage
One of the aims of the draft decision is to ensure consistent coverage nationwide. To this end, it requires the public or private operator who is deploying a network from a shared access point to define, after having consulted with other operators and local authorities, the area concerned by the rollout by meshing it with a broader geographical area, for instance the municipality, in a manner consistent with the existing infrastructure. The operator is further required to cover the whole area within a reasonable timeframe. This system will allow for consistent rollouts, particularly by paving the way for future deployments - the ultimate goal being to achieve complete coverage.
- Increasing joint action between operators and local authorities
The draft decision provides for more joint action between operators and local authorities, prior to rollouts.
Over time, the rollouts would be incorporated into regional digital development plans as they are drafted by local authorities.
Extend the momentum of current rollouts to more sparsely populated areas
- The investment momentum has begun in very densely populated areas in France
Operators France Telecom, Free and SFR recently announced their rollout plans for the next year for densely populated areas. They plan on making 800,000 homes eligible for fibre access, to be added to the 860,000 homes that are already passed for FTTH. This means that, a year from now, close to 1.7 million households in densely populated areas could have access to fibre-to-the-home services.
- Extending the momentum to more sparsely populated areas but with the support of the national ultra-fast broadband programme
The draft decision being submitted for public consultation today aims to establish a stable and lasting regulatory framework that will enable the same momentum for rollouts outside of very densely populated areas. The government's launch of its national ultra-fast broadband programme in the coming days will help provide operators and local authorities with the means, notably financial, to initiate large-scale fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts across the whole of France.