Paris, 23 November 2011
ARCEP has been working for several months on issues relating to the wireless local loop (WLL). This has included a public consultation that ran from 23 May to 23 June 2011 on the status of WLL rollouts and the outlook for its use and development - the responses to which were made public, along with a summary of the proceedings, on 25 July - as well as several hearings.
On 21 July, as part of the Authority's process of verifying that the parties who had been awarded licences to wireless local loop frequencies in the 3.4 - 3.6 GHz band were complying with the terms of these authorisations, ARCEP's Director of Legal Affairs notified sixteen of these licence-holders of the commencement of a procedure provided for in Article L. 36-11 of the French Postal and electronic communications code (CPCE), concerning their compliance with the obligations listed in the terms of their licences.
In keeping with the procedure, the licence-holders responded by providing ARCEP with data on the status of their WLL rollouts and commercially-available services as of 31 July 2011, along with information on their future outlook.
The investigative procedure carried out on the ten licence-holders in Metropolitan France is now complete, while the one concerning licence-holders in French overseas markets is still ongoing.
It emerged from the investigation that seven of these ten licence-holders had not met the rollout obligations listed in their licences, in terms of the number of WLL transmission sites deployed. They are Altitude Wireless, Axione, Bolloré Telecom, the Department of Charente, the territorial collectivity of Corsica, Nomotech and SHD.
Moreover, three of these licence-holders (Altitude Wireless, Bolloré Telecom and the territorial collectivity of Corsica) had also not made actual use of the frequencies in each of the Departments for which they were issued a licence. This "actual use" consists in particular of deploying at least one transmission site and launching a commercially available service.
In light of these failures, and in accordance with CPCE Article L. 36-11, the Director General of ARCEP issued these licence-holders with an order to comply with their rollout obligations.
Each of these parties has been ordered to satisfy the following conditions:
- by 30 June 2012: actual use of the assigned frequencies in all of the Departments for which they hold a licence, and deployment of a number of transmission sites at least equal to half the number the licence-holder committed to having deployed by 30 June 2008;
- by 31 December 2012: deployment of a number of transmission sites at least equal to the number the licence-holder committed to having deployed by 30 June 2008;
- by 30 June 2015: deployment of a number of transmission sites at least equal to the number the licence-holder committed to having deployed by 31 December 2010.
ARCEP will pay close attention to ensuring that each stage is achieved by these deadlines. Should the licence-holders fail to do so, they are liable to face to the penalties provided for in CPCE Article L. 36-11.
The licence-holders can satisfy their rollout obligations by deploying transmission sites equipped with base stations. They can also meet these obligations by making their frequencies available to other operators, notably local authorities, provided these other operators are able to deploy wireless local loop networks and employ them in a secure and lasting fashion. The obligations can also be achieved through network or spectrum-sharing agreements.