The position of the French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

Paris, 20 March 1998

The French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ART) has issued an unfavourable opinion on the prices proposed by France Télécom for providing schools with Internet acce

  • ART espouses the objectives of the Government's programme for "Preparing for the advent of the Information Society in France", as it has already shown in its decisions of 10 July 1997 on the launch of Internet access services over cable networks.

ART believes that connecting schools to the Internet will boost growth in the Internet access market, which is currently worth about 2 billion French francs.

  • France Télécom has proposed a flat-rate fee for connection to the Internet via the telephone network, which would vary in relation to the size of the establishment concerned. The diagram below shows the three segments affected by the proposal:

- analogue or digital public switched network (segment 1),

- data transmission between the public switched network and the Internet access provider

(segment 2)

- Internet access (segment 3).

 

  • Competition rules prohibit operators from bundling these services if they are in a dominant position on one of the market segments, as is the case of France Télécom on segment 1. A bundled offer would prevent data transmission operators and Internet access providers from providing an Internet access service to school establishments and would thus be a barrier to entry on these markets.

ART suggested a solution which would have satisfied the hopes and needs of the education authorities, while maintaining freedom of choice for school establishments (freedom of choice is essential as technology is changing so quickly and local situations are so diverse). ART would have agreed to the principle of special tariffs for schools, on condition that France Télécom added a special service to its standard interconnection offer and price list, enabling all operators' requests for access to the local loop to be satisfied.

ART regrets that these suggestions have not been followed.