On 18 February 2021, Arcep published its Decision awarding the firm Starlink Internet Services Limited an authorisation to use radio frequencies to operate a public network, enabling it to provide fixed internet access via satellite. The Conseil d’Etat ruling of 5 April 2022 annuls that Decision. Arcep is complying with the ruling, and today is launching a public consultation on the matter.
The Conseil d’Etat found that Arcep’s contested Decision “was likely to have a significant impact on the broadband internet access market and to affect end users’ interests”
Article L. 32-1 of the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE) stipulates that: "When […] the Regulatory Authority for electronic communications, Postal affairs and Print media distribution plans to adopt measures that will have a significant impact on the market or affect end users’ interests, it will make the planned measures public within a reasonable time before their adoption and will collect observations on the matter. The result of these consultations will be made public, subject to secrets protected by Law”.
In the case of the authorisation to use radio frequencies awarded to Starlink in 2021, Arcep considered that it would neither have a significant impact on the market nor affect end users’ interests. The frequency band in question indeed enables the cohabitation of multiple satellite industry players, and does therefore not create a situation of spectrum scarcity.
Moreover, the day the authorisation was awarded, other satellite superfast broadband plans were already available, whose users number in the tens of thousands, amongst the more than 17 million superfast broadband subscribers in France.
For all of these reasons, the Authority considered that it was not necessary to hold a public consultation with regard to the CPCE criteria.
To comply with the Conseil d’Etat decision, Arcep is holding a public consultation to obtain feedback from stakeholders on the award of frequencies to the firm Starlink
Stakeholders have until 6 pm on Monday, 9 May to forward their observations to Arcep. These contributions will then be made public as quickly as possible, along with the new Arcep decision, if applicable.