Greater transparency in geographical coverage

Paris, 10th December 2007

Coverage of mobile networks—which already cover a large part of France—is very important for regional development.

This is why ARCEP has imposed new obligations on operators when it renewed their GSM licenses, which aim to increase transparency in terms of national coverage. Mobile operators are now required to publish coverage maps more precise and checked by on-site surveys (1).

This is for two reasons:
- to inform consumers
- to encourage operators to increase their geographic coverage

The operators publish since 1st October their coverage maps with a better precision

Since 1st October, the coverage maps the three operators publish on the Internet comply with ARCEP’s decision. These maps are available at the following addresses:
- http://www.coverage.bouyguestelecom.fr
- http://coverage-reseau.orange.fr
- http://www.sfr.fr/assistance/reseau-sfr-france

The scale of these maps is sufficiently precise to appreciate each operator’s coverage in every town.

The accuracy of these maps is checkable through on-site surveys

The operators are liable for the accuracy (at the canton level) of these maps, which are checked on the ground based on a public survey protocol. Each year, using this protocol, the operators are required to conduct coverage surveys in 250 cantons chosen by ARCEP.

In 2007, under these measurement campaigns, Orange France and SFR are required to test the coverage of their networks in 11 regions. In October, both operators transmitted to ARCEP the results of the audits of the first 73 cantons of the year. These audits show good reliability of the maps published, while allowing the two operators to slightly improve their maps on a local level.

Before the end of the year, Orange France and SFR will submit to ARCEP the results of the audits of the other 169 cantons remaining to be audited in 2007. Bouygues Telecom will begin to conduct its on-site surveys in 2008, in anticipation of the renewal of its GSM license which would take place at end 2009.

The public nature of the protocol allows any interested person or municipality to conduct their own coverage surveys.

These maps will make it possible to appreciate the continual improvements made to coverage

The “white areas” programme, begun by public authorities, must be completed at the end of 2007. This programme aims to cover 3 000 towns which weren’t covered by any operator in 2003. Including the completion of this programme, each operator will cover over 99% of the Metropolitan French population.

In 2008, when the benefits of the completion of this programme can be fully appreciated, ARCEP will conduct a global geographic coverage review. This review will use the coverage maps published by the operators and will aim to identify the remaining “grey areas”.

By the end of the decade, the operators must also finish covering major transport routes, representing over 50 000 km highways and heavily travelled roads. Coverage of these routes will help to improve mobile network coverage in our country even further.

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(1) ARCEP decision no. 2007-0178 (20th February 2007)


Linked documents

Smiley Decisions n° 07-0178 (pdf - 131 Ko) , containing the on-site survey protocol, and  n° 2007-0230 (pdf - 74 Ko) , containing the list of the 250 districts to be audited in 2007 Smiley

Smiley  The implementation of the coverage maps (pdf ) Smiley