18 July 2003
Orange France and SFR's 15-year GSM authorisations will expire in March 2006, and Bouygues Telecom's authorisation in December of 2009. Under the Post and Telecommunications Code, Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) must propose the conditions for renewing authorisations to the Minister of Telecommunications, at least two years prior to the expiry dates, i.e. by March 2004 for Orange France and SFR. The Minister then notifies the authorisation holders.
As we approach the end of the 15 years which saw the development of mobile telephony in France, ART feels it is important to define the means of renewing the GSM authorisations which will make it possible to prolong the success of the second generation of mobile telephony in France to consumers' benefit, and which will help smooth the transition to UMTS.
Second-generation mobile communications services using the GSM standard have been hugely successful since their introduction in France in 1991, particularly during the past five years. The penetration rate for mobile telephony in Metropolitan France has exploded from less than 10% at end 1997 to 64% at end 2002, with an average annual growth of over 45%.
The renewal conditions must take account of the new legal framework under the so-called "Telecoms Package" directives. The renewal process must be consistent with the relevant markets analysis procedure currently underway.
Given the short time remaining until March 2004, date of notification deadline, we must begin preparatory work now.
ART is committed to conducting this process in a spirit of transparency and in partnership with the sector. Therefore, it requests the opinions of all potentially interested parties, by means of the public consultation launched today.
All interested parties are invited to submit their contributions to ART before 6 October 2003.