ART pleased by Government's publication of its proposal

18 August 2000

In its decision no. 00-835 dated 28 July 2000, ART proposed to the Minister of Telecommunications the means and conditions for allocating authorisations for the introduction in metropolitan France of third-generation mobile systems (3G).

These systems will make it possible to considerably enrich the mobile services offer, thanks to the addition of new features such as high-speed data transmission, with the capacity needed to offer these functions.

Mobile communications systems have become a major component of the French and European telecommunications market. The demand for mobility, almost nonexistent until the early 1990s, grew strongly, becoming the main source of growth in the telecoms sector.

ART is pleased that the Government has published today its proposal, which officially marks the launch of the application procedure for four metropolitan licenses each of which will be valid for 15 years. Each operator will be granted the same number of frequencies, i.e. 2 x 15 MHz.

This application procedure is the fruit of long preparation, lasting over two years. In February 1999, ART launched a major public consultation, which aimed, on the one hand, to determine the issues facing future mobile systems, especially in terms of marks and services, and on the other hand, to determine the conditions and means of allocating authorisations. The consultation, which was completed in May 1999, gave over 30 sector players—including industrialists and telecoms operators—the opportunity to make their opinions heard. Based on the information obtained from the consultation and subsequent discussions during radiocommunications consultative commission meetings, ART has established the means for selecting future third-generation system operators which will be published today.

ART's primary objectives are as follows:

  • to promote the development of the mobile multimedia market—and Internet in particular—in order to satisfy the expectations of the majority
  • to promote investment, employment and regional development in order to stimulate growth
  • to ensure future systems are compatible with existing mobile systems
  • to ensure available spectrum resources are put to optimal use

The operator selection procedure will follow the following schedule:

18 August 2000: - publication of the notice of the application procedure
31 January 2001 - application submission deadline

- beginning of the selection procedure

28 February 2001, at the latest: - publication of the list of candidates and their major shareholders
31 May 2001, at the latest: - publication by ART of the selection results and report
30 June 2001, at the latest: - Minister of Telecommunications delivers authorisations to each of the selected candidates
July 2001: - first frequencies allocated to operators
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This schedule should meet the requirements of the European Parliament and European Council dated 14 December 1998 regarding the co-ordinated introduction of third-generation mobile systems in the European Union, which states that Member States must progressively introduce 3G systems by 1st January 2002.

Candidates will be selected using the "Beauty Contest" method, as was the case for the radio local loop. This method is based on 14 selection criteria, in three areas: technical, commercial and financial. Each applicant will be evaluated on each of these criteria, for a total mark out of 500 points. The four candidates receiving the four highest marks will be allocated a 3G license.

The main criteria are as follows:

  • "Speed and depth of network deployment" (100 points)
  • "Project coherence and credibility" (100 points)
  • "Business plan coherence and credibility" (75 points)
  • "Service offering" (50 points)

These criteria meet the primary objectives mentioned above, in particular the development of new services and functions and the quickest possible territorial coverage.

Moreover, the provisions of the application procedure aim to ensure that operators truly provide third-generation services, of a quality greater than that provided by GSM and covering all of France. Candidates must commit to the depth and speed of deployment of the network, their service offering as well as the quality of the service when granted an authorisation.

Other provisions aim to establish the conditions for effective and balanced competition among third-generation operators. Thus, 3G operators not having a GSM license will be able to complete coverage during the first years of deployment thanks to the compatibility of 3G and GSM systems, once they have satisfied the initial minimal coverage requirements. Moreover, the sharing of sites will be encouraged to allow 3G operators not having mobile infrastructures in France access to existing sites, under the same conditions as their competitors.

Finally, considering that the development of 3G services will require the provision of innovative services which are attractive both in terms of content and pricing, ART considered it important to facilitate access to services through open and fair competition on the service market. Therefore, it calls on operators to ensure they do not create discrimination between service providers in the sales agreements they sign with them. It also charges operators to allow their subscribers to freely choose the service providers from among those with whom they have signed sales agreements.