Paris, 3 April 2013
Prior to its next analysis of high-speed and very-high-speed Internet markets, the ARCEP is consulting market players regarding possible future changes to its regulation of unbundling.
Unbundling refers to France Telecom's wholesale services, which allow other providers to use the passive infrastructures of its proprietary local copper-wire loop in order to market their own services to end-users. In order to do this, corporate unbundling customers must install their own equipment at France Telecom's main distribution frames (subscriber access nodes). These wholesale services are regulated by the ARCEP.
86.3% of the French population is currently able to access competitive retail services due to unbundling, which makes France one of Europe's champions in terms of unbundling coverage. As highlighted by the document made available for public consultation, extending unbundling to alternative operators was achieved via self-regulation, the encouraging of unbundling of ever-smaller subscriber access nodes, and via the projects implemented by local authorities aimed at increasing broadband access for subscribers in their regions.
This high rate of coverage in terms of number of subscriber lines (86.3%) has been achieved even though only 40% of France Telecom's subscriber access nodes have been unbundled. It is unlikely that unbundling will be achieved throughout France before the completion of the next round of market analysis in mid-2017.
However, where unbundling has not been implemented, the range of services available to subscribers is often limited and generally does not include television, for example.
This is why the ARCEP wishes to collect analyses from market players, both public and private, on possible modifications to its regulation of unbundling in order to provide the most homogeneous possible level of service to the entire population, thereby reducing the digital divide.