Paris, 30 May 2000
Following a complaint lodged by Association des Opérateurs de Services de Télécommunication (AOST), the Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) fined France Telecom FRF 2 million in application of the provisions of article L.36-11 of the Post and Telecommunications Code.
This is the first time ART has applied this procedure.
- AOST's complaint
ART was informed on 15 March 1999 that France Telecom's retail price catalogue was not available to the public even though its specifications stipulate that its must make the price list available to the public both in its agencies and in electronic format.
Article 17.1 of the specifications which were approved by decree no. 96-1225 dated 27 December 1996 states: "France Telecom shall establish a price catalogue for universal service and required services. This catalogue shall be available for consultation free of charge in France Telecom's commercial agencies and at points of contact with customers, and can be accessed for a reasonable charge via electronic means.
Moreover, and without prejudice to specific provisions, and in particular, article D. 370 of the Post and Telecommunications Code, France Telecom shall take appropriate measures to ensure that customers are informed of all new prices which must appear in the catalogue at least one week prior to their application."
- The procedure initiated by ART
According to the terms of an initial series of inquiries conducted in June 1999 by sworn ART agents in France Telecom agencies in several cities, France Telecom was given official notice on 29 July 1999.
Following a second series of inquiries in March 2000—9 months later—ART noted that the defaults which had been previously observed had not been fully rectified.
- ART's motivation
France Telecom's default has consequences for the telecommunications market: because it did not respect its obligations to make its prices available in its agencies, primarily with regard to services for its corporate clients, France Telecom's behaviour has contributed to maintaining a damageable lack of transparency with regard to pricing:
- for clients who are not made fully aware of all available services and their prices, and therefore cannot fully benefit from them
- for new entrants competing with France Telecom, making it more difficult for them to establish their own marketing policies—especially as regards prices—which can affect the proper operation of the market in the period during which it is being opened to competition
After hearing France Telecom, ART fined it FRF 2 million.
N.B.: Decision no. 00-483 dated 24 May 2000 establishing the fine against France Telecom is available on ART's Web site.