Networks as a common good
The unprecedented crisis that we are currently experiencing has provided a powerful reminder of the degree to which communication networks – internet, fixed and mobile telephone, mail, parcel, print media distribution – are a vital infrastructure in our country’s operation, and a fundamental part of the freedom, equality and fraternity that our country holds so dear.
The outstanding mobilisation of telecoms, postal and print media companies’ teams in the field, and of the whole fabric of the small and medium businesses, local stakeholders and associations that surround them, has made one reality possible: the networks are holding steady! Not always under the usual conditions, but they are holding steady. A feat that commands respect! Let us also salute the contribution of those “heavy” network users, VoD suppliers, print media publishers… who are doing their part. And especially to all of the users who have taken it upon themselves to switch from 4G to Wi-Fi, staggering video viewing across the day, and waiting patiently for their mail or parcels to arrive. Thank you!
The Arcep manifesto of “networks as a common good” is not a mere statement of principle. It is a profound reality, made manifest by this mobilisation of each and everyone of us, by this sense of shared purpose.
It is also an imperative that we, as regulator, will continue to honour throughout the crisis, to ensure a continuity of service, including for the most vulnerable among us, accessibility for people with disabilities, to keep users informed, protect the secrecy of correspondence and net neutrality… On this last point, I would like to reiterate how fully net neutrality is a cardinal rule in network governance. It is to some extent the “law of the crowd” versus the “law of the strongest” versus the arbitrary. Arcep is committed to ensuring this principle remains in full force under the current singular circumstances.
And, finally, we are working to prepare for what comes next, once all of this is over. To confirm an unwavering drive to outfit our country with competitive telecoms networks, massively and rapidly: to connect every household, every SME with optical fibre, and deploy 4G wherever it is still needed; to launch 5G while ensuring balanced regional rollouts. We must also subject technology to a greater sense of accountability, particularly from an environmental perspective. And bring back to the fore the need to expand telecoms regulation to include devices’ operating systems, those powerful network checkpoints that no watchdog is watching. A host of challenges then, to which we will respond with a full-throated belief: networks as a common good.
Sébastien Soriano, Chairman of Arcep
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