Paris, 18 April 2017
Today Arcep is launching a public consultation on the system, terms and conditions for awarding the status of "fibre zone". Established by Law, the aim of this status is to accelerate the pace at which users across France upgrade to fibre access, and thereby achieve the objectives of the Plan France très haut débit ultrafast rollout scheme. This public consultation will enable Arcep to establish the system to be used and the terms and conditions for awarding this status, and to then submit them to the Government.
A status for accelerating the transition to fibre
"Fibre zone" status originated with the Report from the Champsaur task force on the transition to ultrafast access networks, and the phasing out of the legacy copper network. This status, which is entrenched in law, in meant to bolster the momentum of the transition to ultrafast access, and so to help reach the coverage targets set out in the Plan France très haut débit ultrafast rollout scheme. It is within this context that lawmakers tasked Arcep with proposing to the Government the system, terms and conditions for awarding this status.
"Fibre zone" status must make it possible to qualify those areas where the deployed ultrafast access networks satisfy the necessary prerequisites to a mass transition, to be able to then trigger measures in those areas that create an incentive to make that transition. The creation of this status thus marks a first step in the migration to ultrafast access, and one whose purpose is to accelerate the commercial rollout of fibre to the home (FttH) electronic communication services, and thus to truly benefit the operators and local authorities that apply for it.
The intention is to trigger a virtuous circle. By improving their image and thanks to concrete measures such as lifting the obligation to install copper telephone lines in new buildings, the "fibre zone" status will drive a collective momentum for achieving successful deployments and high quality fibre local loop networks.
A clear and understandable status to encourage its appropriation by stakeholders
Arcep elected to co-design this status with the concerned stakeholders. To this end, it hosted a workshop for operators, local authorities and their representative associations, in tandem with the Directorate-General for Enterprise, on 23 January of this year. This workshop helped to fuel Arcep's thought process, which resulted in the consultation being launched today.
The overall aim for Arcep is for this "fibre zone" status to be clear and easily understood by users, to encourage its appropriation by businesses and consumers alike. To this end, acceptance of and support for the status of fibre zone, and users' understanding of it, can only be achieved if, for end users, this status corresponds to their ability to subscribe to an FttH service. Arcep thus believes that the status should only be awarded in those locations where fibre rollouts are complete which, from a concrete perspective, means that all residential and business premises in the area are eligible to subscribe to an FttH plan, or can be connected to an FttH network upon request.
Arcep thus plans on awarding the status of fibre zone to an easily identifiable geographical mesh block (which could be an administrative division within a municipality), once all of the premises are "passed" for fibre. This mesh block must correspond to a daily reality, and be a tangible element that is shared by all of the local economic, political and administrative activities.
Outside very high-density areas, a limited percentage of premises, located in sparsely populated areas, will only be able to be "connected upon request" once the status has been awarded, as their connection will require the installation of an optical connection point, within a maximum six months, in accordance with the Arcep recommendation of 7 December 2015.
The public consultation will run until 24 May 2017
Arcep invites the sector's stakeholders to reflect upon all of these criteria, and to submit their comments before 24 May 2017.
Based on this public consultation and the responses received, Arcep will then submit to the Minister responsible for electronic communications its proposed system, terms and conditions for awarding the status of "fibre zone", in accordance with Article L33-11 of France's Postal and Electronic Communications Code (CPCE).
Finally, once the ministerial order is adopted, Arcep will be able to begin awarding "fibre zone" status to the eligible locations.