Paris, 6 June 2007
In recent months, major French operators have announced and begun implementing plans to deploy very high-speed access networks in Paris and in certain other large cities.
These initiatives are a part of the continuing dynamic of the high-speed market and put France ahead of its European counterparts. In order to facilitate the efficiency of investments to the benefit of consumers, ARCEP wishes to contribute to the emergence of a framework which is favourable to the development of very high speed. In the next few months, it considers it necessary to go further in depth into two subjects: operator access to ducts and the sharing of the terminal part of networks.
Favouring operator deployments by sharing ducts
The total renewal of the copper local loop with fibre optic local loops requires an investment of tens of billions of euros. Civil engineering costs and the laying of ducts represent more than half of the cost of building a new fixed local loop. Under these circumstances, the possibility of using civil engineering infrastructures (ducts, rooms) is a key factor in operators’ economic equation.
A number of projects are underway in this sense:
First, the Comité des Réseaux d'Initiative Publique (CRIP), a forum for discussion and exchange between ARCEP, local governments and operators, is examining how local governments might intervene in favour of very high speed, such as laying extra ducts during roadworks and leasing them to operators.
=> Points of reference will be published before the end of the year
Next, ARCEP has initiated works to evaluate the advisability and feasibility of regulating the incumbent’s ducts. Indeed, in 1996, France Telecom received the ownership of several hundreds of thousands of kilometres of ducts installed for the telephone and cable plan networks. These infrastructures are only partly occupied and could facilitate the deployment of fibre optic networks.
Such regulation concentrated on the lowest network layers would help to stimulate operator investments by reducing regulation needs on higher layers: fibre network architecture, structure and pricing of activated offers, etc.
=> This summer, ARCEP will submit a market analysis for public consultation bearing on the competitive situation of ducts and their possible regulation
Sharing the terminal part of networks to avoid creating local monopolies
It is indispensable that the terminal part of networks be shared:
- to limit disruptions in apartment buildings and houses by avoiding having different operators lay networks
- to let inhabitants put competition into play between very high speed service providers without being held captive by the first operator to have wired their building
It appears that operators having begun deploying fibre networks in apartment buildings have already told owners and managers that their networks are "shareable".
However, to date, their access or sharing offers have neither been published nor been notified to ARCEP. Some building managers have wondered about this situation.
=> In order to provide transparent information to various players, ARCEP invites operators deploying very high speed networks to send in their technical and pricing offer for access to the terminal part of their network by the end of the month.
ARCEP will pay very special attention to the technical specifications of interfaces, provision tariffs, location of interconnection points, related connection services to interconnection points and equipment hosting.
=> A document submitted for public consultation will then explain the main conditions necessary for the terminal part of a fibre network to be effectively shared by the various very high speed operators under reasonable technical and economic conditions.
In order to coordinate the various works in progress, a very high speed project leader has been designed at ARCEP. This position will be held by Sébastien Soriano, head of the FTTx and unbundling unit.