Paris, 16th April 2002
In the same line of action as it has taken for several years, endeavouring to aid development of broadband, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications announced last autumn that the reference offer, based on which unbundling started in the field in the middle of 2001, must be improved by Spring 2002. The aim is to allow greater development of unbundling beyond the market segments currently addressed, which are mainly professional customers in certain very large cities.
Today, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications is developing this trend by adopting a decision to improve the essential operational and tariff parameters for unbundling. This decision, which will come into force on 2nd May this year, takes into account past experience, the information obtained from the consultations made with all the operators, in particular within the core of the Bravo group, and the exchange of opinions with France Télécom. It goes far beyond the proposals that were publicly put forward a few days ago by the incumbent operator, mainly concerning the following points :
Regarding tariffs, the decision adopted by the ART includes the following :
- The fully unbundled access tariff is reduced from 14.5 to 10.5 Eeuros (- 28 %) ;
- The shared access tariff is changed from the previous 6.1 euros, which excludes the price of filter, to 2.86 euros, with filtering service included ;
- Connection costs have been reduced from 107.9 Eeuros to 78.7 Eeuros, (- 27 %) ;
- Tie cables, which have been billed up to now on request and payable in a lump sum, will from now on be charged at a provisionnal flat rate monthly fee, while waiting for the results from the research carried out by the Authority.
Regarding operating conditions, the decision by Autorité de régulation des télécommunications means a step forward for both the co-location conditions of operators on the France Télécom sites and the ordering and delivery systems for unbundled pairs.
- Regarding co-location, the decision obliges France Télécom to offer all operators the option of placing their equipment in the existing rooms containing France Télécom's equipment when there is available space, in all the sites where there is no firm order at present by an operator for a specific cohabitation room. This solution will mean a great reduction in entry costs compared with the previous solution, which consisted of creating new rooms specifically reserved for the operators. In order to achieve a less costly and simpler solution, the ART's decision adresses detailed questions, to especially allow operators to benefit from possible permanent unaccompanied access, and without assignation to their installed equipment in order for them to, in particular, ensure any maintenance that may be required. It also involves terms being stipulated in which the operator can find out if there is enough space available and start using it once the necessary equipment is operating, when required.
- Regarding ordering and delivery of unbundled pairs, the decision tackles the implementation conditions of the non-discrimination principle between the incumbent operator and third party operators, by stipulating an obligation for France Télécom, on the one hand, to determine and publish average delivery terms, and on the other hand, not to make operators pay certain costs in situations that still cannot be suitably anticipated or assessed at this initial stage of unbundling..
All these modifications, which France Télécom must fulfil by 2nd May 2002 in its reference offer, are in order to provide a real boost to the unbundling process in larger areas of the country, and open the path to extending it to residential customers.
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In addition to unbundling, development of ADSL competition, in the interests of the end-user, calls for further changes to ensure effective competition for all the segments in the chain: customer access, data and transport by operators to the ISP and, finally, competition between access providers..
In order to offer ISP a choice between intermediary offers of various operators, the latter must be able to make, in the short term, competitive offers to the ISP, compared with the IP/ADSL offers by France Télécom, while engaging activities in the unbundling process, which will give them sole control over access to customers.
Therefore, since the beginning of the year, the Authority has been carrying out consultation in order to determine the degree of change required to France Télécom's bitstream access offer to operators (Option 3)..
It is with this same concern - to avoid total elimination of the operators and open a path for competition that would be beneficial to the ISP and end-users - that the Authority will give its opinion by the end of this month on the changes announced by France Télécom of the IP/ADSL tariffs, which do not appear to be compatible with the Option 3, and thus incompatible with promoting the real competition that the Authority is obliged to guarantee.