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Paris, 15 May 1997

The French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ART) is pleased to announce the publication, in the Official Journal dated 14 May 1997, of the decree on universal service funding.

It is ART's duty, under the Telecommunications Act, to calculate the cost of the universal service and to submit its proposals to the telecommunications minister, who then officially establishes the universal service cost. The decree which has just been published sets out the methodology to be used by ART to cost the universal service, and thus enables ART to effectively embark on the working programme laid down in its opinion of 31 January.

This working programme has three objectives:

. to establish a verifiable, transparent benchmark system for evaluating the cost of universal service, which may be used as a reference in determining the cost of the universal service in 1998;

. to issue forecasts of universal service costs for 1998, by 1st September 1997;

. to set up compensation mechanisms.

The cost of the universal service may only be established after this process has been accomplished.

ART will undertake its working programme in its usual manner, by involving and consulting all sector players, and in particular France Télécom and the new operators.

Press Contact:
Jean-François HERNANDEZ
tel : 33 1 40 47 70 33 - fax : 33 1 40 47 71 98
email : Jean-Francois.Hernandez@art-telecom.fr
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