11 October 1999
On 19 February 1999, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) launched a major public consultation on the introduction of UMTS in France. This consultation, which was closed in late May aimed to determine the issues related to the planned arrival of 3rd-generation mobile systems and to gather the opinions of players on the means of introducing these new systems in France.
ART received 33 responses, most from operators and industry (cf. list in annex). These contributions show that the main issues related to the introduction of UMTS are clearly understood, even though commercial start-up of 3rd-generation mobile systems is not planned before 2002 at the earliest.
I – Three main conclusions of the consultation:
- Uncertainties remain as regards the emergence of 3rd-generation of mobile networks and services
These uncertainties are related, firstly, to the use and services which will ensure the market takes off, in addition to what GSM offers or will offer.
There are also technical uncertainties regarding standardisation, in particular, and on the possibility of adapting the IP protocol to the requirements of mobility.
Economic and financial uncertainties expressed deal with the cost of deploying a UMTS network, and with the prospects for profits that a player on this market can expect.
- Despite these uncertainties, contributors are optimistic about the chances of success for UMTS
UMTS will bring closer together two strongly growing worlds: mobile telephony and Internet. Technical difficulties do not seem insurmountable, because they are seen as being temporary.
Many contributors emphasize that UMTS will be built on a solid base—GSM—which it will progressively replace.
- Differing expectations as regards regulation
Overall, contributors call for flexible regulation, given current uncertainties. At the same time, regulation must ensure that every player has a place within a value chain which may differ from that which exists for GSM. Two relatively contrasting concerns were expressed on this point:
- the concern that a place be found and acknowledged for players not wishing to deploy infrastructures, but wishing access to certain network functions
- the concern for the need to protect the investments of operators, which will have to bear the majority of the financial risk related to deploying new infrastructures
II – The consultation points up a fairly broad consensus on several points:
- a definite preference for national (four licenses given available frequencies) rather than regional licenses
- the timetable for delivering these licenses, which should be similar to that chosen by our neighbours and partners
- the implementation—as much as possible—of systems conforming to a standard defined by ETSI
- the quantity of spectrum per operator, at least in the early years: 2*15 MHz in paired bands, plus 5 MHz in unpaired bands
- the crucial character of quickly providing sufficient quantities of frequencies in the 2 GHz band
- a clear and equitable candidate selection process, based on the "beauty contest" principle and clearly explaining the rights and responsibilities of future UMTS authorisation holders. The question of specific obligations which might be placed on current mobiles operators is clearly expressed, when a UMTS authorisation is delivered
- the move to UMTS seen more as an evolution than as a break with GSM. On this point, a common view is expressed on the fact that the GSM standard should continue to be developed, and that existing operators will implement GPRS before building UMTS networks
- the fact that UMTS is seen as participating in fixed-mobile convergence
ART will formalise the contents of the proposal it will submit to the Minister of Telecommunications based on the comments received. IT will deal with the means and criteria for selecting candidates.
PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON UMTS:
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
- Agence nationale des fréquences (ANFR)
- Association Française des Utilisateurs du Téléphone (AFUTT)
- Association GSM (formerly MoU GSM)
- Association des Sociétés de Commercialisation de Services (ASCS)
- Bouygues Télécom
- Dolphin Telecom
- Forum UMTS
- France Telecom
- France Telecom Mobiles
- Personal contribution of Josef Huber, Director at Siemens Gmbh, Vice President of the UMTS Forum
- Lucent Technologies
- Lyonnaise Câble
- Matra Marconi Space
- Mitsubishi Electric
- Nortel Networks
- NTT DoCoMo
- Ondeline (French subsidiary of the American company ArrayComm Inc., manufacturer of smart antennae)
- Qualcomm Europe
- Rigel Telecom Inc
- Siemens France