Paris, 20 November 2003
Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) has approved France Telecom's France Telecom Reference Interconnect Offer (the catalogue) for 2004.
- France Telecom's RIO : the primary tool for regulating the narrowband and leased line markets
The catalogue describes the technical and financial conditions for wholesale services that, because of its position of operator with significant market power on the telephone service and leased line markets, France Telecom is required to offer other telecommunications network and service operators.
The contents of the catalogue must meet regulation objectives whose aim is to promote the development of fair and durable competition on the markets concerned.
Thus, it covers a broad range of activities in Metropolitan France and the overseas départements and territories. In particular, it describes the conditions for call origination and termination, carrier selection and pre-selection, origination of switched calls to ISPs and Number Translation Services to special voice and data services, interconnection leased lines, geographic and non-geographic number portability, the origination of calls from public pay telephones for telephone card services, etc.
As in previous years, preparation of the catalogue began in early 2003, with long and in-depth discussions with all operators involved, primarily at Interconnection Committee meetings, and then with final negotiations with France Telecom.
The following are the major changes made to the 2004 catalogue
- Relative stability of voice and Internet wholesale service prices
During the period between 1998 and 2002, each of these services saw their average annual price fall by over 10% per year. However, the factors causing price decreases are fewer since 2003, primarily due to slower growth in switched traffic on fixed line networks.
In 2004, France Telecom made uniform changes to its prices applicable to routing voice and Internet traffic, for both origination and termination.
The prices for origination and termination service at the local switch ("intra-CA") will be kept at their 2003 levels (although France Telecom had initially proposed an increase) and regional origination and termination prices ("simple transit") will be lowered on average by 2%.
ART emphasizes that in addition to the change in these base prices, there will also be a significant decline in the average price of interconnection links, 10% at the local switch and 15% at the regional interconnection switch. Moreover, the flat rate price for preselection set-up has been lowered by 16%, from €6.00 to €5.00 per line.
- A sharp decrease in the price of Partial Private Circuits (PPCs)
The catalogue also includes a significant decrease in the price of interconnection partial private circuits: this service was introduced in the 2002 catalogue to boost competition on the leased lines market . For 2004, the price of these services will be lowered by 15 to 25%, depending on the speed, for monthly charges (for an average decrease of 19%), and by 10% on average for the service access fee.
- A review of NTS wholesale prices
At the Interconnection Committee meeting on 1st July 2003, ART presented an economic review of the wholesale service of call origination to other operators's premium-rate numbers, also called Number Translation Service (NTS). The review showed that the current conditions, where France Telecom simply provides third-party billing but not debt recovery, does not allow other operators to compete in the same conditions than France Telecom on the Service Provider market.
Thus, in collaboration with France Telecom and other operators, ART reviewed the current technical and pricing conditions of third-party billing.
Following discussions, France Telecom made a proposal, which ART accepted, to modify its third-party invoicing service by the end of June 2004 at the latest, to include the overdue amounts owed to third-party operators in its own delinquency notices.
According to France Telecom, this new service should significantly improve the collection rate of unpaid bills currently experienced by third-party operators. The new wholesale third party billing service for premium-rate numbers will then be charged at 5% of the amount of the income invoiced by France Telecom (excluding VAT).
- The catalogue progressively moves toward adapted service quality
The 2004 catalogue improves the clarity of the commitments made and the quality of service for a number of services currently offered by France Telecom: the time limit for implementing pre-selection on subscriber lines, the means and time limits for providing abutment line services for PPC's, the time limits for restoring connection links to France Telecom's network and the delivery times for France Telecom's interconnection resources.