The French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority makes arrangements for subscribers connected via France Télécom's first-generation switches

Paris, 23 January 1998

The press recently pointed out that nearly 2 million households, connected via France Télécom's first generation switches would not be able to choose their telecommunications operator directly by dialling the single " E " digit.

ART would like to clarify this matter:

Competition is effective for all subscribers

The technical and financial provisions for interconnection enable competition on the majority of France Télécom's network.

However, while France Télécom's network is renowned for its modernity, there are still a certain number of first generation switches in operation that cannot support interconnection: thus it is not possible for subscribers connected via these switches to select a long distance carrier in the same way as on the rest of the nework, ie. by dialling a single-digit selection prefix.

New operators are well aware of the technical limitations of these old systems which have been taken into acount in the standard interconnection offer and price list approved by ART in April 1997.

A list of the numbers concerned, region by region, can be found in annex. They represent about 1.8 million lines, or 5.6% of subscribers. In the Ile-de-France region, they represent 395 000 lines, or 6.4% of subscribers.

While the situation is unsatisfactory for both consumers and new operators, it could not be avoided. First generation switches are part of the legacy of the French telecommunications network. But they are due to be replaced between now and the year 2000, according to France Télécom's investment schedule.

ART shares the hope and concern that network modernisation will be carried out as smoothly and quickly as possible.

... / ...

ART has made provisions for this transitional period

ART has put in place a transitional technical solution. Calls will be routed in two phases: first subscribers will dial the short four-digit " 36PQ " format number associated with the operator of their choice; then, after a recorded message they will dial their correspondent's ten-digit number.

For example, by the ART Decision of 8 October 1997 the short number 3639 has been reserved for Cegetel.

Thus, subscribers wishing to call 01 40 47 70 01 using Cegetel:

- dial 71 40 47 70 01, if connected via a modern switch,

- dial 3639, followed by their correspondent's usual ten-digit number, after the message, if connected via a first generation switch.

Other short numbers will be reserved for new operators upon request.

Call-by-call carrier selection functions worldwide by the use of a four, five, or even seven-digit prefix before the usual number.

Press Contact:
Jean-François HERNANDEZ
tel : 33 1 40 47 70 33 - fax : 33 1 40 47 71 98
email : Jean-Francois.Hernandez@art-telecom.fr
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