Paris, 9 March 2004
ART issued a communiqué on UMTS today in which it announces the revised rollout obligations for Orange France and SFR. The Regulator also reaffirmed its confidence in the rapid take-off of UMTS in France, while at the same time identifying the key factors to ensure success.
Significant discrepancy between the rollout obligations specified in the licences and the technical and economic reality.
The audit carried out by ART since August 2003 indicates that technical and economic factors such as problems in adapting the technology, the financial context and the operating difficulties encountered during deployment prevented Orange France and SFR from complying with their rollout obligations in 2002 and 2003. These factors, which are external and common to the other European countries, explain the delay in adapting and deploying UMTS, which can be assessed at between 24 and 30 months.
As a result, ART has revised the UMTS roll-out obligations for these two operators.
· New rollout timetable
- The deadline for commercial service launch has been put back to 31 December 2004 for both operators. By this date, each operator must provide 3G services in at least 12 of the largest urban areas ;
- The deadline for the first milestone in the Orange France and SFR coverage obligations has been put back 28 months to 31 December 2005. Each operator will be required to cover 58% of the population by this date. In addition, ART considers that the medium-term objective of providing 3G coverage to a majority of users must be upheld.
Consequently, UMTS services should be launched in France in 2004 along with most other European countries.