13 March 2001
In its decision no. 01-253 dated 2 March 2001, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) ruled on a dispute over the pricing conditions of France Telecom's ADSL Connect ATM offer which Liberty Surf Télécom had submitted to ART on 17 November. France Telecom's data transmission offer allows operators to provide high-speed Internet access on France Telecom's local copper network telephone lines using ADSL technologies.
France Telecom offered this service to operators following an injunction from the Conseil de la Concurrence on 18 February 2000, in response to a complaint from 9 Télécom lodged on 29 November 1999. In its decision, the Conseil de la Concurrence ordered France Telecom to offer new entrant operators a technical and commercial access offer to a permanent virtual circuit or to provide an equivalent technical and economic offer. This access offer to the permanent virtual circuit corresponds to unbundling option 3 whose importance had been highlighted in the public consultation held by ART in 1999.
- The context and conditions for providing ADSL offers
ADSL differs from switched Internet access in that it gives surfers a permanent connection, better service quality with higher speeds, and pricing which does not depend on connection times.
High-speed Internet access, as established by France Telecom's offer, uses the incumbent operator's local network to which end customers are connected, then a regional ATM data transmission network, which routes the traffic from the local network to a hub for a geographic zone called an ADSL area (the size of a French département). It then uses a national data transmission network to the Internet servers of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who manage users and provide the actual Internet services.
Until now, new entrants did not have the technical resources to join this service chain using their already deployed infrastructures. Indeed, their only possibility was to resell to their clients France Telecom's Netissimo service, over which they did not have true technical and economic control. Under these circumstances, only France Telecom could offer ISPs a global ADSL data transmission offer.
Thus, the ADSL Connect ATM offer meets operators' need to truly take part in providing ADSL services by offering ISPs offers which are comparable to those offered by France Telecom.
- The measures adopted by ART
In its decision, ART defines the pricing conditions for the ADSL Connect ATM offer which it considers equitable and which will allow third party operators to offer ISPs ADSL services under conditions which are economically equivalent to those of France Telecom's own services.
The measures adopted by ART affect:
1. The reservation minimum for access requested by the third party operator:
Whereas France Telecom's initial offer required that third party operators order a minimum of 50 accesses per distribution frame, ART has significantly decreased this number in order to facilitate the start-up of services.
2. The prices of the ADSL Connect ATM offer:
Whereas the planned price for France Telecom's initial offer combined access services and bandwidth, ART considered that the two elements should be separated and set their prices for 2001 at:
- For access: FRF 210 per month per access requested
- For bandwidth: FRF 1,330 per Mb per month
These new prices are significantly lower than the initial prices, especially since the number of accesses requested is low, around 86% for 10 accesses and 36% for 600 accesses.
- The decision will give all operators the chance to deploy an ADSL offer
This decision is essential if effective and fair competition is to be created on the ADSL market, which is indispensable to generating high-speed access to Internet.
Indeed, France Telecom is currently massively deploying its ADSL offers across France. Without equitable conditions for access to the ADSL service network, new entrants would be unable to efficiently participate in the high-speed Internet access market. Under such conditions, the development of this very promising market could be held back by the absence of competition.
Moreover, the ADSL Connect ATM offer complements the copper pair unbundling offer which requires major investments and which can be done only progressively. Thanks to the ADSL Connect ATM offer, new entrants will be able to quickly offer high-speed Internet services wherever ADSL has been deployed.
- The decision will provide ISPs with more traffic transport offers
Furthermore, the ADSL Connect ATM offer opens up competition for high-speed Internet traffic transport. Thus, ISPs will be able to choose between several offers, which should encourage a drop in prices, to the benefit of the end client.
Decision no. 01-253 (pdf - 57 Ko) dated 2 March 2001