30 October 2000
Access to France Telecom's local loop is one of the key factors to opening the local market to competition and to the creation of high-speed Internet access offers, in particular via xDSL technologies.
The decree dated 12 September 2000 regarding access to the local loop defines the measures relative to unbundling, within the framework of French legislation. It stipulates that as of 1st January 2001, "operators in the list established in accordance with paragraph 7 of article L.36-7 are required to meet requests for access to the local loop".
The implementation of unbundling is complex. For it to be applied under the best possible conditions, ART has created a working group responsible for determining the technical, operational and economic conditions of unbundling. This group has been meeting on a regular basis since February 2000 and initial trials were begun in July 2000.
Its work has brought to light the complexity of the project. In particular, on the technical and operational level, discussions and experiments have made it possible to define the services related to unbundling and the processes needed to implement them. The lessons learned have been collected in the documents produced by the working group. On a number of crucial points, the participants asked that ART guide the implementation of these measures through recommendations.
Thus, ART is committed to drafting recommendations in order to provide the visibility needed by players on the operational means for access to the local loop in sufficient time before 1st January 2001. It emphasizes that these recommendations form a balanced whole, which should reasonably allow the implementation of unbundling under satisfactory conditions and it hopes to see them included in the reference offer France Telecom is required to present by 1st December 2000.
These recommendations describe the local loop access services:
- the provision of information
- full unbundling of the local loop
- the transmission offer allowing the connection of colocated equipment to the networks of operators requesting access
In their current state, the recommendations do not deal with shared access to the local loop, as the working group has just begun examining it. The recommendations will be added to based on the results of this work.
- The provision of information on the local loop network is essential if unbundling is to work; it must allow operators to schedule network deployment and to order access to subscriber lines. The decree states that France Telecom must provide certain information by 1st October 2001. Within this framework, ART recommends that France Telecom provide to operators without delay a list of the addresses of the distribution frames, the size of the sites and the computer cards describing the coverage zones.
To allow operators to evaluate the possibility of offering xDSL services to customers, France Telecom must provide detailed technical information on the lines concerned without the operator having to have previously ordered unbundling of the line.
- Colocation, allowing operators to install their equipment inside France Telecom premises is indispensable for the deployment of xDSL technologies. ART recommends that it be done, whenever possible, in a room set up by France Telecom and shared by operators. In accordance with the decree dated 12 September 2000, France Telecom must process colocation requests by 1st October and a specific process is suggested in the initialisation phase in order to manage the expected influx of requests. Room set-up must be able to be done in less than four months and ART considers that France Telecom should be able to provide most of the rooms requested by operators by 1st March 2001.
- Fully unbundled access to the local loop is planned as either the transfer of a subscriber line which already supports telecommunications service or the creation and transfer of new lines. Transfers will be done only upon the express request of the user to the operator of its choice. ART considers, given what has been observed elsewhere, that France Telecom must be able to transfer an existing or new line to a new operator within 10 days.
- Finally, ART recommends that the provision of transmission links making it possible to connect colocated equipment to the operators' networks be shared by operators present on a given site.
Moreover, in order to best ensure operational monitoring of the deployment of unbundling ART has created a "unbundling operational monitoring" cell, headed by Eric Draicchio (Interconnection and New Technologies Department). This cell will act as a one-stop centre for operators, will draft a quarterly review on the progress of unbundling and will ensure the timetable is respected.
The document "ART recommendations on the definition of services providing access to the local loop and its operational implementation" to read or to download