ARCEP underlines the partial and occasionally inaccurate nature of today’s press release made by Free on its superfast broadband offers

Paris, 1 October 2013

ARCEP indicates that the press release published today by the Iliad group on its superfast broadband plans for residential users includes information on access speeds that could mislead users on the service that their ISP will actually deliver.

In particular, the advertised download speed of 100Mbit/s for VDSL2 is a purely theoretical throughput, and does not correspond to the speed that can actually be supplied to consumers, as ARCEP already indicated a few months back (press release of 26 April 2013). Free’s promise will therefore not match customers’ actual experience. Instead of indicating results achieved in a laboratory setting, Free could have, for example, put forward the results achieved in the full-scale VDSL pre-rollouts in Dordogne and Gironde.

As for its promise of a “dedicated” throughput of 1 Gbit/s for its fibre network, ARCEP can only underscore the incomplete nature of the information supplied. The quality of the service provided to end users depends not only on the capacity of the access network, the subject of Free’s press release today, but also on the capacity of all related infrastructure (backhaul, interconnection, etc.). For example, as shown by the investigation that ARCEP conducted on the relationship between YouTube and Free (press release of 19 July 2013), and unless Free has made massive investments in August and September 2013 to improve its interconnection capacities, the information released today will not correspond to users’ experience when watching videos online.

More generally, ARCEP notes that it is working closely with ISPs to introduce a scorecard measuring the quality of internet access services (with the first indicators due to be made public in early 2014), which should help clarify this issue.

Additionally, ARCEP stresses that electronic communications operators must ensure their offers are transparent and must engage in fair competition. These obligations are particularly important at the stage of rollout of superfast networks, be they fixed or mobile.

ARCEP will pay close attention to any behaviour that could distort the market and will act accordingly, in tandem with other public authorities. 

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