Welcoming the support for its draft regulation concerning broadband and ultra-fast broadband, ARCEP will take the utmost account of the remarks submitted by the French Competition Authority.

Paris, 9 March 2011

On lightening regulation

ARCEP will perform a careful examination of the Competition Authority's suggestion to alleviate the obligations imposed on France Telecom in the wholesale broadband market, i.e. bitstream solutions, in those parts of the country where competition is lively and bound to last thanks to the unbundling of France Telecom's copper local loop.

In areas where competition is weaker ARCEP plans, on the contrary, to strengthen the obligations imposed on France Telecom, to be able to create the same momentum brought by unbundling to the entire country.

On the introduction of a rendez-vous clause to assess regulations governing optical fibre rollouts

On the matter of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network rollouts, ARCEP - who, in accordance with the law, established symmetrical regulation that applies to all operators - considered that this was not an opportune time to introduce additional asymmetrical regulations that would apply only to fibre deployed by France Telecom. ARCEP nevertheless holds the view that if the concrete implementation of the principles that it set out when defining the symmetrical regulation does not result in a competitive market structure, it will be necessary to contemplate imposing additional asymmetrical remedies. To this end, ARCEP will consider including a rendez-vous clause in its draft regulation.

On increasing bandwidth

ARCEP welcomes the Competition Authority's assessment that its planned regulation concerning schemes for increasing bandwidth provides a satisfactory response to competition issues that had been identified previously. This positive assessment from the Competition Authority marks a major step forward in the work that ARCEP has been engaged in for the past year, whose aim is to ensure that schemes to increase bandwidth on existing networks could provide local authorities with a means for bridging the digital divide in suburban and rural areas.

ARCEP will fine tune its draft regulation on increasing bandwidth by taking account of the many remarks that stakeholders submitted to the public consultation which ended yesterday.

On functional separation

The Community directives contained in the Telecom package for 2009, which are to be transposed into national law in France by this summer, give national regulatory authorities the power to impose functional separation on an SMP operator.

ARCEP nevertheless considers that, even within the wording of the European tests, such a measure could only be considered under exceptional circumstances, should more proportionate remedies fail . It is therefore a measure of last resort.

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ARCEP will amend its draft regulation to take the utmost account of the Competition Authority's opinions. In early April, it will notify the European Commission which will respond with its own remarks within a month. As a result, ARCEP should be in a position to adopt the new regulatory framework for broadband and ultra-fast broadband markets definitively by the end of May.