ARCEP will publish its mobile network sharing guidelines for public consultation before the end of the year

Paris, 16 October 2015

ARCEP given new powers

The Act on Growth, business and equal economic opportunity, of 7 August 2015, endowed ARCEP with a new power: the ability to request that operators amend their mobile network sharing agreements when necessary to achieve regulatory objectives.

It is because these agreements have such a strong impact on the mobile market’s structure that Parliament sought to expand ARCEP’s responsibilities in this area. France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil Etat, detailed the Authority’s competence in this matter in a Decision dated 9 October 2015.

ARCEP preparing its guidelines

As announced in June 2015 in the run-up to the vote on the bill, ARCEP began an in-depth analysis in July of the two main mobile network sharing agreements in effect in Metropolitan France:
- the roaming agreement thanks to which Free Mobile customers access Orange 2G/3G coverage,
- and the agreement between SFR and Bouygues Telecom to share their 2G/3G/4G networks in a large portion of the country, and including a 4G roaming solution for SFR customers on the Bouygues Telecom network.

Two members of the ARCEP Executive Board, Marie-Laure Denis and Philippe Distler, hosted a dialogue with stakeholders. ARCEP also collected technical data through a questionnaire sent out to the concerned operators. This work will continue and, once talks between the ARCEP Board and the interested parties have concluded, will result in the production of a set of guidelines. These guidelines will define, first, ARCEP’s general framework of analysis for mobile network sharing in France, in relation to the regulatory objectives set by law, and based on the analytical framework established by the Competition authority in its 2013 opinion. Second, the guidelines will specify the procedures for applying this analytical framework to the two aforementioned contracts.

Towards the end of the year, ARCEP will publish these guidelines for public consultation, and will submit them to the Competition authority for an opinion. They are due to be adopted officially in Q1 2016. In accordance with the law, it will be up to stakeholders to then draw the necessary conclusions as quickly as possible.