Arcep has received an amendment to the mobile network sharing agreement between Digicel and Free Caraïbe
In February 2020, Digicel and Free Caraïbe signed mobile network sharing contract in the Antilles and Guiana, via the Madiacom joint-venture, which was then notified to Arcep. Arcep is currently in the process of examining this agreement, to ensure that it is compatible with the regulatory objectives set forth in Article L. 32-1 of the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE).
On 17 December, Digicel and Free Caraïbe notified Arcep of an amendment to their mobile network sharing contract in the Antilles and in Guiana, which had been signed the previous day.
The amendment brings the following clarifications to the contract:
- It stipulates that the transitory phase for hosting Free Caraïbe on Digicel frequencies (i.e. roaming phase) – which will be gradually phased out, region by region, as the RAN-sharing solution is implemented – will be terminated within a maximum two years of its start date. The amendment nevertheless provides that, should there be technical difficulties when implementing the RAN-sharing solution, reported and justified to Madiacom by both parties, this phase could be extended for an additional one year, maximum, through a mutually agreed upon contractual amendment.
- It specifies the geographical scope for the cross-sharing of 800 MHz and 900 MHz band frequencies between the two operators: they will share the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands in Martinique and Guadeloupe, and only the 800 MHz in Guiana. Saint-Barthélemy and Saint Martin are not covered by this mutual sharing of low-band frequencies.
- It strengthens the two parties’ planned investments to improve mobile coverage along the RN2 roadway in Guiana, provided it is technically feasible.
In addition to the amendment, Digicel and Free Caraïbe have stipulated to Arcep that they will keep it informed of:
- The termination of Free Caraïbe roaming on Digicel frequencies, as the services are phased out region by region;
- The progress being made to improve mobile service coverage and quality through a shared radio network, via their annual report.
Arcep continues its examination of the agreement, taking this new information into account
Arcep is conducting a detailed examination of the agreement and the amendment notably, with respect to the regulatory objectives set out in CPCE Article L. 32-1 and in its May 2016 guidelines, while also taking into account the feedback it received from the sector’s stakeholders in July 2020.
Based on this analysis, Arcep will then decide whether or not it will be necessary to require further amendments to the agreement, in application of CPCE Article L.34-8-1-1.