Paris, 2 April 2004
Since early 2003, Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART), in cooperation with the sector, has been preparing the conditions for the renewal of Orange France and SFR’s GSM authorisations. A public consultation was launched on the subject in July 2003, and its summary published in January.
On 24 March 2004, to conclude the process, ART submitted its decision on the proposed renewal conditions to the Minister of Telecommunications, for subsequent notification of operators. This decision takes account of the fees scheme announced by the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry on 19 March 2004.
The main changes made in accordance with the new framework under the "Telecoms Package", which is currently being transposed in national law, are as follows:
- Specific obligations under the general authorisation
The new framework requires that operators respect measures under the general authorisation. As such, in addition to the obligations applicable to all the operators defined by the decree, GSM and UMTS mobile operators in Metropolitan France and the DOM (overseas départements) will be subject to new specific obligations that will take effect once they have been formally adopted by the Minister of Telecommunications.
Operators will be required to report annually on how they are adapting and improving the accessibility of mobile telephony for the handicapped and put in place labelling identifying the terminals and services best suited to different handicaps.
They will also be required to limit SIM locking. Currently, operators are obliged to provide their subscribers with a code to unlock their terminals systematically and free of charge after six months. From now on, this obligation will apply upon termination of customers’ commitments to their operator, and at the latest, after six months. In this way, customers subscribing to offers with no commitment may obtain the code immediately.
Operators must also facilitate customer access to access and service providers by allowing free terminal configuration.
Operators are also imposed obligations related to environmental protection. They must provide the public with an up-to-date list of radio-electric sites and provide mayors with a file on the radio-electric installations in their municipalities, upon request.
Finally, the fight against telephone theft is made more effective. Operators in Metropolitan France will be required to enter in the already existing database the IMEI numbers of telephones reported stolen and to lock these terminals.
- Obligations under the individual frequency user authorisation
Operators will also be required to respect the measures under the individual frequency user authorisations issued by ART. These obligations will take effect in March 2006.
GSM operators in Metropolitan France will have to provide, at their expense, coverage of the so-called "white zones" identified in the second phase of the agreement of 15 July 2003. Taking account of white zones, Orange France and SFR will have to cover a total of 99% of the Metropolitan population compared with the current 90%. They will also be required to cover major high-priority transportation axes, in particular road axes in each département. With respect to the general public, operators are held to an obligation of transparency of the coverage of their networks, in particular by publishing annually information regarding territorial coverage which is sufficiently detailed to take account of geographic and demographic diversity.
Moreover, in addition to telephone service, operators will be obliged to provide at least one interpersonal messaging service (SMS, MMS, e-mail, etc.) and data transfer in packet mode (e.g. services using GPRS) respecting minimum service quality obligations. Finally, they will have to provide at least one service based on user localisation.
All these new obligations aim to take account of consumer interests and to provide conditions encouraging the continued success of mobile telephony and the transition to the third generation.
ART decision n° 04-150 (pdf - 129 Ko) dated 24 March 2004 proposing to the Minister of Telecommunications the renewal conditions for SFR and Orange France’s GSM authorisations On 24 March 2004, ART also adopted decision n° 04-209 (pdf - 118 Ko) proposing to the Minister of Telecommunications the renewal conditions for Orange Réunion’s GSM authorisations.