Arcep favours redistribution of fibre roll-out areas for French operators

Thursday 26 October 2017 | 17:51 CET | News

French regulator Arcep has published a document outlining its views on the best way forward in the implementation of France’s broadband strategy. Arcep’s assessment, which was prompted by a request from the French Senate, aimed to answer specific questions raised by recent developments in the country’s telecoms sector, particularly the proposal by SFR to bring fibre-to-the-premise connectivity to all households and businesses by 2025, without receiving any state aid. Among its main conclusions, the regulator supports the call from Orange’s rivals that the areas of the countries earmarked for deployment in the so-called ‘AMII’ settlement, agreed in 2011, should be redistributed in a pragmatic way to accelerate the speed of fibre roll-out. 

This redistribution would enable not only SFR, but also Bouygues Telecom and Free, to invest in those specific regions of the country (outside very high-density population areas) where Orange had previously committed to bring fibre services without any public subsidies. The ‘AMII’ settlement, which originally concerned 9.8 million French premises, was agreed by Orange and SFR to avoid duplication in the deployment of their respective fibre networks. Following the merger with Numericable, SFR has tried to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with Orange for the last two years, demanding a bigger share of the areas earmarked for deployment, and took the matter to court in May.

Within its assessment, Arcep expressed doubts over SFR’s recent proposal to extend fibre coverage to rural and under-served communities without the need for state aid. In particular, it highlighted the risks of such a strategy, such as the possibility that certain areas could be prioritised over others based on the profitability of the deployment. On the other hand, the regulator welcomes a dialogue between local communities and SFR under very specific conditions, recommending the presence of strict and binding obligations on the operator, coupled with the full consent, where relevant, of the public authorities responsible for any previously-agreed deployment project.

The presence of strict and binding obligations is also at the heart of Arcep’s recommendation to strengthen the network sharing model in place in France to discourage inefficient duplications in fibre deployment. Specifically, the regulator has proposed the creation of a new status to facilitate the way operators can access civil engineering infrastructure, in exchange for a legally-binding commitment on the terms of their roll-out plans.

The regulator also commented on the government’s objective to bring faster broadband speeds nationwide by 2020 and confirmed its intention to use the license renewal negotiations with mobile operators to enforce new coverage obligations, in a bid to extend the availability of LTE services in remote areas of the country. 

Free Headlines in your E-mail

Every day we send out a free e-mail with the most important headlines of the last 24 hours.

Subscribe now

::: add a comment