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ARCEP has begun multilateral work on the prospect of Orange shutting down its switched telephone network 

Paris, 16 February 2016

For several years now, Orange has been engaged in a programme to upgrade its networks and make the transition to all IP. This programme also includes deciding the future of its legacy system: the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

It is within this framework that Orange officially informed its fellow operators and ARCEP of its intention to gradually phase out the PSTN, which is the backbone of traditional analogue and digital telephone services. Orange has specified that this shut down does not concern the copper-pair access network, which provides the backbone for broadband internet access, voice over IP and capacity (leased line) services.

Orange explains that its decision derives from the fact that the long-term sustainability of its legacy telephone network could be challenged in the coming years. Indeed, the equipment and components designed specifically for this network are becoming obsolete, and the network itself becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as equipment suppliers are abandoning the technology. As a result, continuing to operate the network for too long into the future would result in significant malfunctions and even service outages.

As expressed in its Decision No. 2014-1102 of September 2014, ARCEP will not oppose Orange's decision to streamline its network, notably by shutting down the PSTN in all or part of the country. Nevertheless, because such an action would hold considerable consequences for the entire sector, ARCEP requires Orange to comply with a series of advance notices: in particular, Orange must give notice of the shut down of the PSTN in any part of the country at least five years in advance.

Orange has not given any specific date as yet. Despite which, ARCEP already began talks with operators during the multilateral preparatory meetings that were held in May, September and November 2015. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 17 March 2016. ARCEP will be especially mindful of ensuring that the conditions under which this technological transition is carried out guarantee fair and effective competition between operators, and that all end users are given the proper support throughout the process.

Orange has produced a document containing all of the key information so that all operators, and their sales staff, have a shared understanding of the project and are able to inform their customers. This document will be updated as the project advances.

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ARCEP invites all of the stakeholders (operators, users, consumer associations, trade associations, local authorities, etc.) wanting to take part in this work to send an e-mail to the department in charge of the project: RTC@ARCEP.fr .

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