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The POST #32 (October 2019)

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The POST #25 (December 2018)

The POST #24 SPECIAL EDITION 5G
(November 2018)

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The POST #19 (May 2018)

The POST #18 (April 2018)

The POST #17 (March 2018)

The POST #16 (February 2018)

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The POST #14 (December 2017)

The POST #13 (November 2017)

The POST #12 (October 2017)

The POST #11 (September 2017)

The POST #10 (June 2017)

The POST #9 (May 2017)

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The Post - Newsletter Editorials

All Post's editorials

The Post n°32 (October 2019)

WRC-19: what is at stake?

The biggest challenge at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) – taking place in Egypt from 28 October to 22 November – will be revising the regulatory framework in a way that encourages technological innovation with the deployment of IMT-2020 (5G), the stations installed on High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) and non-geostationary satellites, while continuing to protect existing services. In addition to vital questions relating to transport (sea, ground and air) safety, earth observation, weather forecasting and climate monitoring will also be examined.

New players’ interest in obtaining frequencies above 24 GHz will also be discussed. Coming from economic sectors (health, security, automotive industry, utilities, heavy industry, etc.) other than telecommunications, these new players want access to high-range frequencies. This demand is tied primarily to uses enabled by 5G that require ultra low latency and high reliability, very high speed connections and the ability to connect a large number of devices. Frequency ranges between 24, 25 GHz and 86 GHz offer the ability to have wide frequency bands that could satisfy some of these new players’ spectrum needs.

Mario Maniewicz, Director of the ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau

Key events for the spectrum world, the purpose of World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) is to amend the Radiocommunications Act, an international treaty between ITU member states that aims to facilitate fair and equal access to radio spectrum and to geostationary and non geostationary satellite orbits, and to address potential interference between radio systems in different countries. The conference is held every four years, and follows an agenda that is decided at the previous WRC. The National Frequency Agency (ANFR) will head up the French delegation of which Arcep will be a member.

Read The Post n°32

The Post n°31 (September 2019)

On not seeing the forest for the stick 

There is no one way to regulate. Since the political decision to open the telecom sector up to competition more than twenty years ago, Arcep has been patiently constructing regulation that one could qualify as pragmatic. By focusing on the future rather than punishing past transgressions; by opening the way for entrepreneurs with an open-minded approach; by combining the best of private investment and local government initiative, all while ensuring a reasonable transition for what was once France Telecom. Our actions are not driven by any underlying ideology, our sole purpose being to provide the people of France with high quality and plural communication networks that are widely available nationwide, and at competitive prices.

The Board has followed the same trajectory over the past several years: by working to secure a demanding but progressive evolution of the roaming agreement between Free and Orange; by proposing an unprecedented New Deal for Mobile to the Government; by reaching an agreement with Orange rather than imposing obligations on its fibre rollouts; by issuing demanding but constructive opinions on AMII (areas where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent) and AMEL (calls for expressions of interest for local projects) procedures…

In some instances, our European neighbours have chosen different paths: imposing functional separation of the incumbent carrier; widespread fibre rollouts by local authorities; top-down LLU pricing; high-priced frequency auctions… 

France’s telecoms market is regularly held up as an example in both Europe and around the world. If operators should be the first to take credit for this – with men and women who are working every day on deploying networks and outfitting the country – Arcep’s pragmatic regulation has also had a hand in it.

But pragmatism is not something that can be decreed. It requires stakeholders to have enough trust in the system’s solidity to commit to it, to “play the game”. Arcep’s penalty procedure – which, it should be remembered, has only resulted in actual penalties in exceptional cases – plays a decisive role here. Not for its own sake, but to create this trust and shared momentum. The best example is the competition and network coverage commitments that operators can make. Without oversight or penalties, these commitments would be words on paper. 

The regulator’s stick hides the French model’s forest. Disputing Arcep’s power to impose penalties, even though it was recently reinstated after having been rescinded on the grounds that it was unconstitutional – and we can be confident that the current text has solid legal standing – is not simply a litigation procedure. It means defying the pragmatic spirit of regulation à la française.

Arcep’s Board

Read The Post n°31

The Post n°30 (June 2019)

Growing the clientele, ensuring their satisfaction, verifying suppliers’ products and services, diversifying the supply chain, overseeing the company’s operations and production quality, handling its financial management and accounting, motivating staff, hiring, keeping pace with the latest innovations… are just some of the jobs a company head needs to do, including those who run micro, small and medium businesses.

Today, all of these functions rely heavily on digital tools: e‑commerce, cloud, cooperative tools, State-as-a-platform services… making network connectivity all the more vital. Networks too are in the throes of their own revolution (FttH, IoT, PSTN switch-off...), largely in a drive to improve services, but sometimes at the price of rendering things more complex.

Arcep has made the business connectivity market one of its top priorities. It is working to open up a broader range of choice for every enterprise, as much in terms of technologies as quality and pricing tiers.

It also wants to give SME company heads the means to leverage competition between operators: this is the purpose of the “BUSINESS TELECOMS – Internet, fixed and mobile telephone services: a practical guide to choosing the right products” produced in collaboration with a host of partners.

France boasts one of the world’s most competitive telecoms markets for consumers: the same must be true for small and medium enterprises!

François Lions, Arcep Executive Board member

Read The Post n°30

The Post n°29 (May 2019)

9.8 billion euros, increasing by 40% in four year: operators’ investments testify to a sizeable and ongoing push in spending, which is vital to meeting the country’s needs.

But what do these figures actually means for people in France? The benefits are clear: rollouts are progressing nationwide, network coverage and quality levels are both on the rise. They are making it possible to monitor how users’ behaviour is evolving and enable enterprises in their digital transformation. From a very concrete perspective, the regions are benefiting more and more from fibre access, whose progress in 2018 and the steady pace of deployment were the main sources of increased spending this year. 13.5 million homes passed for fibre, which represents an additional 7.9 million access lines installed in three years. Spending on mobile networks has meant that users are enjoying broader 4G coverage, which now extends to 65% of the country (+20 points YoY). A progression that is keeping pace with the explosion of mobile use in France, and data traffic that has doubled.

Up next: 5G. Arcep will remain committed to pro-investment regulation, once again pushing operators to ensure nationwide coverage and connectivity.

Joëlle Cottenye, Arcep Executive Board member

Read The Post n°29

The Post n°28 (April 2019)

The State must be able to reinvent itself, to stay with the times and fulfil its duties

At the heart of our relationship with the State lies an aporia: as the guarantor of the general interest, the State is at the root of our social contract, but it is also vilified by those who view government action as the root of all our current evils.

This gives way to two conclusions: the State is and must remain a central force in rising to the challenges our country is facing today; but it must also be able to reinvent itself, to modernise and reform to keep pace with our changing world and to meet citizens’ needs.

The birth of regulatory authorities is one example of a successful change in the institutional landscape, and one that must now be put fully to work: the rising influence of these authorities does not render “traditional” government obsolete. It remains the irreplaceable guarantor of fundamental balances.

The culture of norms that too often reigns in an administration also needs to be challenged when it does not always achieve the necessary progress on the ground. In an ever-changing economic, social and technological environment, public policymakers need to take government action that is both responsible and bold. In particular, this means changing the way the public sector works, to encourage innovation within government agencies.

There is a tremendous wellspring of energy and intelligence in the public sector. Which needs to be mobilised and especially deployed to the right places, to come in line with citizens’ expectations, and underpin a more adaptable society capable of meeting the challenges of our times.

Bruno Lasserre, Vice-President of the Conseil d’Etat

Read The Post n°28

The Post n°27 (February / March 2019)

When the telecommunications regulatory authority was created, just over 20 years ago, its mandate was to open the telecoms market up to competition. Its responsibilities have expanded since then, and Arcep has become a major player in regional digital development. They key issues today: developing fibre access nationwide and improving both local and mobile connectivity.

Things are moving forward on both fronts, thanks to operators’ massive investments, local authorities’ commitments and the State’s proactive approach. Arcep has an important part to play here, in encouraging operators to invest but also in ensuring that they are meeting their commitments and obligations:

  • for fixed services, this includes operators’ commitments in those parts of the country where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent (called “zones AMII” in French), and in areas targeted by calls for expressions of interest for local projects (“zones AMEL”) and in areas covered by private investment;  
  • for mobile services, this includes tracking the progress of the New Deal by giving local authorities and users the tools they need to assess operators’ efforts.

In a number of regions, investments need to be coordinated or pooled to avoid inefficient network overlaps or coverage holes. Nobody must be overlooked: telecoms networks, which are an essential infrastructure for the economy and for guaranteeing the freedom to communicate, must benefit everybody and develop as a common good.

On 26 March, Arcep will be play host to decision-makers, local authorities and operators for its Smart Territories conference, whose theme this year will be Commitment. Commitment from everyone, for the benefit for the economy and regional development.

Monique Liebert-Champagne, Arcep Executive Board member

Read the Post n° 27

The Post n°26 (January / February 2018)

The internet that we once dreamed of is now under threat. This free and open platform, a common good for all humanity, fostering open access to information, education and culture for everyone, and enabling permissionless innovation is today having to contend with a host of dangers:

  • the proliferation of cyber threats, disinformation and interference in democratic processes, the internet being used to commit crimes or abet terrorism, all of which are now a serious menace and triggering a new kind of arms race;
  • the virtual monopolies enjoyed by certain companies, against which the usual regulatory tools appear ill-suited and hard to enforce, and the impact of business models built around grabbing and keeping users’ attention;
  • the swift rise of certain new areas of research, such as artificial intelligence, which require collective thinking about the ethics and social values that must guide these developments.

To tackle these dangers, France has embarked on a deeply committed diplomatic mission to promote openness, net neutrality, a safe and stable cyberspace, the protection of fundamental rights, including privacy, and safeguard democracy.

But a commitment from the State alone is not enough to achieve these goals. It requires a commitment from everyone: businesses, civil society, research. The battle is far from over, and things are heating up…

Henri Verdier, France’s Ambassador for Digital Affairs

Read the Post n° 26

The Post n°25 (December 2018)

European regulators and the Code - new tools, same role

In 2018, I took over the Chairmanship of BEREC from Sébastien Soriano, who held this position in 2017. What we shared in our role was the focus on the negotiations on the new European Electronic Communications Code. While in 2017 BEREC adopted its position on the Commission proposal, it was my task to reply to the many compromise proposals tabled until an agreement was found mid-2018. In the meantime the Code has entered into force and has to be transposed into national law.

Many discussions are already taking place about the impact of the new tools foreseen in the Code like Wholesale-only, Co-investment and symetric regulation. To me, these new rules signal a shift in paradigm that apparently is about to take place in the market. What was perceived impossible economically just a few years ago, that new third infrastructures are being built, can be observed in ever more markets.

Operators join forces to co-invest in fibre, Open Access fibre networks are popping up across Europe, getting the backing from investors. This is good news for Europe and an encouraging development with its sustainability still to be shown. However, also in this changing landscape the challenge of regulators remains to stay vigilant and to safeguard effective competition, being the best driver for efficient investment. With new tools at hand and drawing on 20 years of experience I think we are well prepared for this task.

Johannes Gungl, BEREC Chairman 2018, CEO for Telecommunications and Postal Services of the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications

Read The Post n° 25

The Post n°24 (November 2018)

The first mobile phone call was made in 1973, a mere 45 years ago. Several generations of mobile technology have followed since then… and at an increasingly accelerated pace as demand for applications and connectivity has grown. Today, the starting pistol for the global 5G race has already been fired, even though 4G rollouts are not yet complete!

5G is as much an evolution as a revolution. Evolution because its first stated uses will focus on increasing the density of 4G networks and completing ultrafast mobile coverage. But 5G’s promised innovations, flexibility and spectacular gains in speed will also make it an industrial revolution: a tremendous enabler of vertical industries’ digitisation, which will be the main 5G market next to consumers. This economic challenge makes its swift deployment a national imperative.

Here, France is still on track. Frequency allocations are well underway: the 700 MHz band has already been allocated, procedures for the C and L and mmWave bands could take place in 2019, and commercial launches in 2020. But frequencies are not the be all and end all. Organising new ecosystems and conducting vital use case trials also require both operators and vertical industry stakeholders to step up: a full commitment from everyone – to test economic use cases as much as technical feasibility – is crucial.

Arcep is well aware that it has a role not merely that of frequency allocator, but also one of facilitator. And it is fully committed to that role, deploying the needed resources and setting a demanding timetable. So the ball is now in economic stakeholders’ court. It is up to them to ensure the successful transition to the industries and services of the future.

Pierre-Jean Benghozi, Arcep Executive Board Member

Read The Post n° 24

The Post n°23 (October 2018)

Telecoms and audiovisual: the first step to getting along, is listening

Some portray audiovisual media and telecommunications as brothers at war. I don’t see it that way. Networks and the creative process form a virtuous circle wherein each feeds to the other’s bounty. In today’s world dominated by Big Tech, the future audiovisual act is an opportunity to offer up a shared vision, one that goes beyond the “narcissism of petty differences” we can sometimes get stuck in by the issues we tackle on a daily basis. It is in this spirit that Arcep has made three proposals to enable audiovisual services to be masters of their destiny in the digital transformation.

This is the same state of mind that drives Arcep when considering the future of digital terrestrial TV (DTT). Having reflected on the consequences that changing user habits, the growing popularity of TV over IP boxes, on mobiles or simply online have had on terrestrial broadcasting reception (rooftop antennae), in June Arcep proposed putting an end to 12 years of regulating broadcasting service provider, TDF. Does it make sense to maintain a pro-competition action confined to only terrestrial technology, in perpetuity, at a time when more and more avenues are being used to broadcast TV programmes, at the expense of terrestrial? Would it not be wiser to provide these avenues with the guarantee that they too can access these new options under good conditions?

This proposal nevertheless surprised stakeholders, and Arcep is committed to being a good listener. The regulator must send out the right signals to support technological transitions, but also to set the right pace. This is why Arcep ultimately decided to postpone its decision for two years, during which time the current regulation will remain in effect, and so give stakeholders the time they need to make the transition. This decision will result in the publication of a new document in the coming weeks.
In exchange, Arcep is calling on industry stakeholders and public authorities to listen to the warning it is sending out about the emergence of new intermediaries between TV channels and viewers. Currently required to negotiate with ISPs for access to their boxes, TV channels – which will increasingly become apps not only on the TV screen, but also on other screen-based devices and smart speakers – will have to negotiate with the internet giants to be able to reach TV viewers. With the resulting danger that our shared culture will have to bow down to the almighty market overlords.

If thriving innovation starts off as a good thing, let us also keep in mind that, in the past, we were able to extract from the rules that govern the market, methods for distributing cultural content, and to guarantee a principle of free and universal access to knowledge. This is the idea of cultural exception, which we find reflected in the single price charged for books, press distribution, and to some extent net neutrality as well. This is the principle that needs to be revived for the digital age, so that we can continue to come together over a shared culture.

Sébastien Soriano, Chairman of Arcep

Read The Post n°23

The Post n°22 (September 2018)

Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in effect for scarcely four months, but its ripple effects are already being felt.

For businesses, this means adapting more fully to this new data-centric culture in which protecting people’s privacy and innovation need to go in hand in hand to build an environment of trust. Clearly a massive effort to be made, especially by SMEs, but I’m convinced that it is a winning move for Europe which has chosen here the path of ethical and sustainable growth.

The ripple effects also include the normative influence that Europe is having on this issue. California recently adopted a law that draws its inspiration from the European model. Japan signed an adequacy agreement with Europe during the summer to facilitate data transfers, and Argentina is working on a similar law.

A ripple effect too for the people who have embraced these new rights and are counting on regulatory authorities to enforce them. In France, data protection authority CNIL saw a 56% jump in customer complaints in four months.

CNIL needs to be able to support and channel the mighty impact of the GDPR, keeping pace with the power of digital technology and the expectations it fosters. This is a considerable challenge for our institution, set at the crossroads of potentially sizeable economic and strategic conflicts.

And a challenge that is not ours alone but a collective one, as it is vital that European authorities cooperate on all cross-border issues.

Diplomacy, regulation and pragmatism will need to work as one to ensure the GDPR can keep its promises.

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, Chair of CNIL

Read The Post n°22

The Post n°21 (July 2018)

Why the net neutrality debate remains relevant

On June 13 this year, BEREC and TRAI released a joint statement on net neutrality.

Why was it important for the two bodies to come together on this issue? For a variety of reasons, and especially due to the interplay of opposing tensions inherent in the policy:

1. Net neutrality is easy to explain in the inexact language of everyday use. But difficult to describe with the precision that would stand up to legal scrutiny.
2. Any deviation from the principle is blasphemy to its supporters, but the policy must admit exceptions in practice. Even Tim Wu’s seminal paper brings that out.
3. There can be a desire to allow exceptions where the objective is benevolent. Yet, the same exception could, and often does, lead to pernicious outcomes in identical other cases.

An effort to find common ground, and also appreciating the differences, deepens our understanding of the nature of the problem. For instance, BEREC favours the case-by-case, ex post approach to zero rating, whereas TRAI has opted for an ex-ante ban. But in India, the low prices of data and generous usage caps make marginal use of data zero-rated anyway!

The Joint Declaration and the MOU signed at the 35th BEREC Plenary would help regulators in Europe and India work together in developing tools for monitoring the violations and in sharing data. This collaboration is necessary not only for enforcement actions but also for developing policy more suitable for pipes that are no longer dumb.

Net neutrality is to data pipes what an alloying element is to physical pipes: protects the pipes from the build-up of corrosion, thus keeping them clean and robust.

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma

Read The Post n°21

The Post n°20 (June 2018)

Agreement on European telecoms rules: what of fibre rollouts?

A political agreement was reached on 6 June between the representatives of European institutions on the review of Europe’s Electronic Communications Code. Promoting access to broadband and superfast broadband networks via fixed and mobile “very high-capacity networks” is one of the stated objectives.

One of the key issues for France regarding fixed superfast network rollouts was to keep the existing framework, while consolidating the (notably symmetric) regulatory tools that have been in place for ten years now, to facilitate fibre deployments.

After lively debates between the proponents of competition and those in favour of a regulatory holiday to bolster investments in the new networks, the Code upholds the regulator’s ability to take action with respect to the SMP operator, while recognising how co-investment agreements can benefit the market, under certain conditions.

Ultimately, on this crucial matter, the new code draws its inspiration from our experience in regulating FttH here in France. So we will no see any dramatic chances to the regulatory framework that is already in place.

In addition to the issue of FttH network rollouts, the new code also seeks to adapt to new digital challenges. It also aims to lay the groundwork for closer collaboration between regulators in Europe within BEREC.

Philippe Distler, Arcep Executive Board Member

Read The Post n°20

The Post n°19 (May 2018)

Net neutrality in Canada, and why it matters in the digital age

Net neutrality is an issue that has people across the planet stirred up. The massive increase in data traffic has led inexorably to traffic management issues. But, as consumers turn to digital platforms, it is paramount that they be able to make their own choices, take advantage of innovation and exchange their ideas freely.

In Canada, we have had a clear regulatory framework on the matter since 2009, the year we began regulating internet traffic management practices.

In addition, a new policy has been in place since 2017 that governs differential pricing practices, which is an issue that arises when identical or similar products are being sold to customers at different prices. When internet service providers (ISP) set different prices depending on the content, they are exercising a degree of influence over consumers’ choice of certain content. As a result, the CRTC stipulated that ISPs had to treat all data use equally.

We therefore have a rigorous framework in place and firmly support net neutrality. That being said, we also recognise that any regulatory provisions surrounding net neutrality must be flexible enough to adapt to the changes ushered in by new technologies. The future no doubt holds challenges in this area, particularly with the development of 5G and the Internet of Things.

We believe that net neutrality is essential because we believe that it is, above all, in the best interests of the Canadian public.

Ian Scott, Chair of Canadian regulator, CRTC

Read The Post n°19

The Post n°18 (April 2018)

Data have become a central part of all of today’s economic and societal debates. We are only just starting to gauge the possibilities being opened up by the use of these massive quantities of data, which are an increasingly integral part of how businesses and markets operate. But what is also still only nascent is public authorities’ awareness of the ways in which data are being used, with respect to codes of conduct, consumer protection, privacy protection and competition law.

Employing users’ data to optimise online advertising is a good example of how the situation is changing. The ability to deliver targeted ads to an internet user based on their centres of interest, as revealed by their browsing habits, has revolutionised the online advertising sector. At the same time, the internet is becoming the largest advertising medium, and so underscoring the growing influence that digital networks have on our lives. Advertising needs to go after consumers wherever they spend their time, get their news or seek entertainment, and where, more and more, they go to shop for goods and services. At the same time, today’s advertising is a whole new animal: we can now send a highly targeted ad that zeroes in on a single person and the thing she is interested in at that moment. To this end, having access to data and to technologies that provide the ability to tailor advertisements to the website that users are visiting, in real time, has become vital to remaining competitive. Certain players are especially well equipped to go into battle. After having having analysed how the online advertising sector operates, the Competition Authority identified the reasons behind the current success of companies such as Facebook and Google. But, when it comes to exploring this topic with respect to competition issues, or in terms of privacy concerns or safeguarding against political campaign meddling, we are still in the early stages…

Isabelle de Silva, Chair of France’s Competition Authority

Read The Post n°18

The Post n°17 (March 2018)

Identification at the heart of communications: we want to know who we’re talking to!

Back in the day, our phone numbers let others know where we were and who we were. Now, with our mobile phones, the notion of location has vanished and given rise to the perpetual question: “Where are you?”. And online apps have done away with phone numbers: the original “06” prefix assigned to mobiles in France has been replaced by the app ID. And the process of calling is more and more feature-rich, with video, end-to-end encryption, and so on. Today, new applications allow users to have several numbers on a single phone, a direct line to a single party, etc.

It nevertheless remains that the “classic” telephone offers the real advantage of interconnecting different systems, whereas apps still require every user to be employing the same application. Which, in turn, gives us a range of identities: Skype, WhatsApp, G-hangout, Facebook…

Why not then examine the means used to communicate these identities, and thereby keep the old systems’ good qualities, before declaring them obsolete?

Serge Abiteboul, Arcep Board member

Read The Post n°17

The Post n°16 (February 2018)

And what if we no longer had to walk to the end of the garden to make a call?

The Government reached an historic agreement with operators, thanks to the wide-reaching collaborative work that Arcep performed over the course of several months. One of these measures has gone almost unnoticed: Wi-Fi calling and texting. Even though we are all well aware of the trope — and recurring complaint made against operators – of having head to the bottom of the garden in the pouring rain just to get a signal. While it is true that coverage in rural areas will improve considerably, indoor connectivity will sometimes remain spotty.

This is why this new agreement provides for ubiquitous indoor coverage thanks to the use of Wi-Fi calling. This means that, regardless of your operator, you will be able to make calls on your mobile via your home box starting this year (and starting in late 2019 with Free). But, you might say, if I have a box, why use my mobile to call instead of my landline? Well, because everyone today uses their mobile to make calls: it is the device of choice for making calls and for accessing the web, and the only device used to send text message.

Once your operator has activated the Wi-Fi calling and SMS option (which, depending on the phone you have, is found in “settings” or “preferences”), you can call and text from home, provided your mobile phone is a recent enough model.

Monique Liebert-Champagne, Arcep Board member

Read The Post n°16

The Post n°15 (January 2018)

2018: preparing for the future

Arcep’s change in tack, begun in 2015, has translated into actions and results.

Pro-investment regulation has enabled the telecoms sector to get back on track. Arcep will continue firmly on this path in 2018, and will put its guidelines into action in the field. Decisive steps forward will be taken on fibre regulation, the business market and data-driven regulation. The announcement of a new deal for mobile is paving the way for a major paradigm shift, which will need to translate into rapid rollouts.

The positive momentum in the sector means that we now need to prepare for the future. France cannot waste its talent by constantly seeking to make up for lost time.

Arcep wants to be a regulator that unleashes power and energy, and throws open the doors for all the innovators – and I mean ALL the innovators. By supporting Internet of Things start-ups with its regulatory sandbox, and by keeping stakeholders informed about unlicensed frequencies. By galvanising the momentum around 5G, not only operators but every potential user of verticals (industries, infrastructures, public amenities). By guaranteeing the right to permissionless innovation on the internet, by upholding the crucial principle of net neutrality, and, looking beyond, by tackling the issue of devices (smartphones, tablets, voice assistants).

Watch Sébastien Soriano’s hearing with the National Assembly Economic Affairs Committee (in French)

Arcep’s pro-investment regulation, in detail (in French)

Arcep’s 2018 innovation-centric New Year’s message, in the era of Europe and a new deal for mobile

Sébastien Soriano, Chairman of Arcep

Read The Post n°15

The Post n°14 (December 2017)

Those opposed to an open, neutral and innovative internet have more than one trick up their sleeve. To flush out unwelcome behaviour, Arcep wanted to analyse the ways in which devices and their operating systems could hamper users’ ability to access and contribute to the various online content and applications: users cannot have access to all of the content available online, and technical or pricing restrictions can limit the deployment or supply of an application. By the same token, barriers to switching can impede the freedom of users wanting to switch from one device to another.

Arcep has taken up the task of mapping out possible courses of action, by consulting with stakeholders, to better understand the mechanisms at work, inform users and encourage the emergence of the conditions required to ensure an open internet.

Françoise Benhamou, Member of the Arcep Executive Board

Read The Post n°14

The Post n°13 (November 2017)

Competition and investment in network industries

Everything today is getting connected to the Internet, from e-Health, to connected cars and precision farming. We need to offer high-speed Internet connections and ensure widespread 5G mobile access.

A lot of the necessary investment will result from competition; there is no trade-off between competition and investment. To the contrary, competition is a key driver for investment in telecoms networks. When companies compete fiercely, they invest, and in turn spur their competitors to invest. Take, as an example, alternative operators, which have invested billions in infrastructure in France, Italy or Spain.

We are confident that the European Commission's proposed Electronic Communications Code would help to cut the cost of building new networks. It would encourage telecoms companies to build joint networks in the countryside – with the help of public funds – where it wouldn't be profitable for them to invest on their own. Our state aid rules make it easier for governments to support that investment. We support appropriate mapping of network deployment, as this helps to channel public support to the areas most in need.

At the same time, investment is not an end in itself, as investment as such does not directly benefit consumers. It is the impact of investment on parameters of competition, such as lower prices, better quality of service or greater take-up of telecoms services that translates into consumer benefits.

The recent launch by ARCEP of a platform allowing consumers to signal issues encountered with telecoms operators is a welcome example of how authorities can directly help consumers.

Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition

Read The Post n°13

The Post n°12 (October 2017)

To assist the government in its digital transition, this year Sciences Po and its School of Public Affairs inaugurated a "Public Policy Incubator".

A purely technological approach is not enough when designing the State as a platform for the 21st century: a digital revolution is above all a political, social, ethical, economic, etc. revolution. By bringing together all of these components, this education includes learning about digital culture and its core issues and challenges, areas of disruption, ethical and legal aspects, data, new technologies and information systems. It also means teaching a new culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and management, paving the way for a culture of innovation and fostering the ability to tap into the power of the crowd when designing public policies.

It is vital to provide business incubator facilities, where students and researchers can work together on achieving concrete, needs-based solutions that will have a direct impact on the lives of citizens.

The only thing this innovation-centric programme – which is open to all government agencies, local authorities, businesses and members of civil society – needs now are your suggestions and contributions!

Yann Algan, Dean of the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs

Read The Post n°12

The Post n°11 (September 2017)

Duality and convergence

Today, access to telecommunications is provided through dual infrastructures: fixed networks on the one hand, and mobile ones on the other. Both are in the throes of profound technological development: optical fibre rollouts for fixed networks, and 5G for mobile.

Arcep does not favour either of the two faces of this telecoms Janus over the other: the investments required in the coming years must deliver both the superfast access enabled by fibre to everyone nationwide, and significantly improve mobile network coverage and availability. It should also be said that the two technologies complete one another, and so achieve a form of convergence. To give one simple example: it is easy to imagine smart devices choosing the best routing path for calls and data in real time: Wi-Fi then fixed or mobile network access.

Jacques Stern, Member of the Arcep Executive Board

Read The Post n°11

The Post n°10 (June 2017)

The internet has become an indispensable part of our daily lives and an essential economic infrastructure, but above all a space of freedom, exchange, trade and sharing. Some of us are old enough to remember the tremendous Web revolution initiated by Mosaic 25 years ago, which opened the doors to a new digital Library of Alexandria for each and everyone of us.

If the internet is built on a distributed and decentralised architecture, guarantor of resilience, freedom and innovation, the emergence of heavyweight players along the technical and information chain is creating a potential risk of new strongholds being erected.

In its 2015 regulation on the open internet, the European legislator enshrined this cardinal principle of freedom to access and distribute information and content, to use and provide applications and services without discrimination, via their internet access services, by imposing net neutrality obligations on operators, under the supervision of national regulators.

Arcep and its European counterparts are firmly committed to the task. On 30 May Arcep published its first report on the state of the internet in France, which explores this major issue.

Philippe Distler, Member of the Arcep Executive Board

Read The Post n°10

The Post n°9 (May 2017)

Digital anthropology!

Our planet emits weak signals that humans no longer or have never known how to interpret. Billions of sensors dispersed across the globe will fuel the cloud and feed the algorithms that will allow us to anticipate events, and diminish risks by controlling their causes. Here, AI will help reduce disorder and render the second law of thermodynamics obsolete, and so create a less chaotic world!

Looked at this way, we can consider IoT a component of augmented reality, as humans will now have a weak-signal interpreter at their fingertips, right there on their mobile phone!

Ludovic LE MOAN, CEO of Sigfox

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The Post n°8 (April 2017)

No half measures when it comes to investment

Is there a “magic number” for the operator population in a given market: one that makes it possible to combine low prices and high investment? This has been a longstanding conundrum in Brussels, where former monopolies and the leading banks are lobbying for greater consolidation. With the Commission’s Communications Code seeking to review existing directives, this somewhat fruitless debate is about to be overtaken by otherwise important, substantive work on the type of regulation capable of galvanising investment in the networks of tomorrow, and achieving complete coverage across Europe.

France in the meantime is in the process of finding, if not the perfect equation, at least a practical dynamic. The arrival of a fourth mobile operator has proven very successful for consumers, and a major shake-up for its competitors and the sector as a whole. But recently published figures from Arcep reveal an encouraging trend of stabilisation in the sector. More importantly still, that investments are on an upwards swing. Now that a new Government and Parliament are poised to take over the reins, we must not forget the impact that the latest mergers and acquisitions have had on investment, jobs, etc. So, in France as well, it is time to put talk of consolidation on hold, and focus instead on the major issues and challenges the sector is facing. Mobile coverage, fixed ultrafast access, 5G… therein lies the challenge.

Sébastien Soriano, Chairman of Arcep, Chairman of BEREC

Read The Post n°8

The Post n°7 (March 2017)

monreseaumobile.fr is a new map service that has been available on the Arcep website since 22 March, allowing users to gauge mobile network performances with much greater accuracy. Still in the trial stage in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, its aim is to remedy the disparities that users have felt between existing coverage maps and the reality in the field.

A prime example of data-driven regulation, this initiative puts information at the heart of regulation and gives everyone the means to compare providers’ performances, and so to make informed choices. Arcep hopes this will trigger a virtuous circle for operators’ investments in their infrastructures.

This “heavy dose of transparency” for the mobile market is especially vital as 85% of the people in France use their mobile phones every day, which today relay two thirds of all voice calls.

Martine Lombard, Arcep Executive Board member

Read The Post n°7

The Post n°6 (February 2017)

Welcome to the conversation era

Facebook Messenger has more active daily users than the Facebook app itself. Alexa and other voice-controlled assistants are taking up residence in the homes of millions of families. “Alexa, what’s the weather like outside?”, “Alexa, order milk for tomorrow”, “Alexa, tell us a joke”.

65% of Europeans and Americans no longer download mobile apps. Most of us use only five apps on a regular basis. Social media sites are saturated, as is our telephones’ memory. As screen time is becoming more duty than pleasure, and media and services’ business models are based more and more on their ability to capture and hold users’ attention, an alternative has already emerged: the conversation.

The exponential progress of artificial intelligence, users’ fatigue with the glut of apps and, more generally, the use of smartphones more as efficient tools and less as fun gadgets, have given rise to conversational interfaces, or rather non-interfaces. No more accounts to create or learning curves to climb: complexity has been handed over to the technology itself, machines interact with one another and try to understand users’ intention in order to serve them better.
 
These little robots, nestled into our favourite messaging app, are improving day by day and their use becoming more streamlined. At once a consumer service already embraced by millennials, and a business service adopted in the workplace, chatbots are garnering attention thanks to their discrete interface, their invisible design, their desire to deliver the right service, to the right person, at the right time, and then be forgotten.
 
Good news for your valuable attention, welcome to the conversation era.

Marjolaine Grondin, CEO, Jam

Read The Post n°6

The Post n°5 (January 2017)

From the telephone modernisation plan of the 1970s to today’s superfast broadband plan, our country has proven its ability to mobilise around vast infrastructure projects. But, working as closely with those in the field as possible, regulation also needs to be agile to support the development of networks, SMEs’ digitisation, high quality and innovative services. In other words, it must be open to experimentation, to operators’ initiatives to satisfy the demand for efficiency being continually reiterated by citizens and businesses alike, for which “it is indispensable, vital… it has to work!

Pierre-Jean Benghozi, Arcep Executive Board member

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The Post n°4 (December 2018)

"User experience rules"

For once, here's an expression that doesn't come from the French.

When Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page says that user experience rules, primes above all, they are expressing one of the most fundamental truths of this early part of the 21st century: the user experience is capable of creating new kinds of reality. When the experience of a chauffer-driven car is so much better than a taxi ride, we can always ban the chauffeur service but it will not be without repercussions. When an open source encyclopaedia like Wikipedia is much more accessible and wide-ranging that the good old Britannica, which was nonetheless compiled by the finest scientists on the planet, it creates new standards. Despite which States all too rarely take an experience-based approach, which some refer to as global design, remaining rooted instead in the realm of the theoretical. But the theoretical view will invariably much less closely match reality than actual, lived experience.

Of course, we could raise the objection that "user experience rules" approaches generally take only the interests of the few into consideration, and often those of highly capitalistic corporations. So this is the very area where work still needs to be done: having experience-based approaches that take all stakeholders into account, and which ultimately serve the common good. This is the spirit behind an initiative currently being mounted by the École des Affaires Publiques in Paris, in partnership with the Institut Montaigne and Epita. Allowing teams, immersed in high stakes social issues, to rethink the user experience with the help of digital technology, to enable more efficient government action, and possibly propose new normative approaches.

Gilles Babinet, Digital Champion - European Commission, entrepreneur

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The Post n°3 (November 2016)

Many reasons are being put forth to explain the current rise of populism. Often cited is the fear of digital, the destruction of a model that is leaving people by the wayside: a not terribly creative destruction that goes against Schumpeterian predictions. On the flipside, we could postulate that by providing everyone, individuals and businesses alike, with a connection and an optimal quality of service, we diminish the feeling of being excluded. This would mean increased investments, especially in rural areas and for our most disadvantaged.

Françoise Benhamou, Arcep Executive Board member

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The Post n°2 (October 2016)

The Digital Republic Act at a glance

The Digital Republic Act (loi pour une République Numérique), which was adopted a few days ago, seeks to stimulate digital growth but also to provide a framework to ensure it complies with fundamental principles, such as the right to privacy and copyright laws. It works to ensure that everybody in France has access to new technologies, with special measures for people with disabilities and those in a precarious situation. Several of its provisions strengthen the role played by supervisory bodies, such as CNIL and CADA. Arcep's own mandate has been reinforced and its powers strengthened by the Act. Deputy Luc Belot, Rapporteur for the Digital Republic Act

Deputy Luc Belot, Rapporteur for the Digital Republic Act

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The Post n°1 (September 2016)

Welcome to THE POST, our new monthly rendez-vous. In it, you will find talk of regulation (a lot) and digital affairs (everywhere). Architect and guardian of internet, fixed and mobile telecoms and postal networks in France, through its actions Arcep continues to be a passionate contributor to the wider movement of the digital revolution.

Sébastien Soriano, Arcep Chairman

Read The Post n°1