Increasing access rates: a new stage has begun, and local authorities can start to prepare their projects for increasing access speeds to complement fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network rollouts.

Paris, 27 July 2010

As an extension of the guidelines (1) that ARCEP published in February , a major new stage has begun in efforts to increase access rates, with the publication of two new offers by France Telecom that make it possible to prepare for the operational implementation of these schemes.

Increasing access speeds through sub-loop access: a subsidiary solution to FTTH which is relevant as long as efforts to maintain competition that benefits consumers are ongoing

In the guidelines it published on 25 February of this year, ARCEP reiterated the fact that the deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) ultra-fast broadband network rollouts were the most suitable solution for ensuring a significant and lasting increase in access speeds. Today, ARCEP is publishing and submitting to the Competition Authority its draft framework for FTTH rollouts outside of high-density areas (2) , which will result in the adoption of a decision by the end of this year.

In cases where it is not feasible to deploy FTTH networks in the medium term, increasing bitrates by providing access to the sub-loop could prove a relevant solution. But, as the Competition Authority pointed out in its opinion (3) last December , local authorities' projects must systematically work to ensure, and even to increase the state of competition between the different operators. Increasing access speeds is not confined to simply upgrading the network: it must also make it possible to improve the services being offered to users, which necessarily goes by way of providing them with a real freedom of choice among diverse, competitive and innovative solutions being marketed by several providers.

Local authorities can begin to prepare their projects for increasing access speeds

In accordance with the ARCEP guidelines published on 25 February 2010, France Telecom amended its LLU reference offer on 1 July to include a solution for accessing the cross-connection point to allow access to the sub-loop.
On 23 July, France Telecom also published a wholesale offer for providing prior information on the structure of its copper local loop network. This offer is available to all of the players involved in increasing network access speeds (local authorities, public tender contractors and operators) and covers all of the information needed for the operational implementation of schemes to increase access rates.
Local authorities can now begin to prepare their digital regional development schemes, for both their FTTH network rollouts, in light of the draft decision that the Authority made public today, and their complementary access rate increase schemes based on sub-loop unbundling, thanks to France Telecom's offer of prior information.

Work begun in February 2010 will result in the publication of tools and recommendations by the end of the year

Following the publication of its guidelines on increasing bitrates, in March 2010 ARCEP created a multilateral working group that brought together operators and representatives of the main local authority associations, with the goal of establishing a common reference framework for projects devoted to increasing networks access speeds. The group is currently focused on three main topics of discussion:

- the different stages of the operational implementation of schemes to increase access rates, to coordinate the work performed by all of the project's players;
- technical specifications for shared hosting/collocation and collection;
- economic and pricing aspects of schemes to increase access rates, notably the pricing of collection and hosting/collocation services, and the accompanying financial measures.

ARCEP is also engaged in parallel efforts devoted to reviewing its analysis of market 4 (physical network infrastructure that comprises the fixed local loop), which will involve specifying France Telecom's obligations with respect to its local sub-loop.

As a result, by the end of the year local authorities will have a set of tools for launching and fully implementing their tenders for projects to increase access rates via sub-loop access, to complement their FTTH rollout plans.