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FIXED MARKET REGULATION

Public consultation on fixed broadband and superfast broadband market analyses: stepping up investments in optical fibre and helping French businesses in their digital transition  

Paris, 9 February 2017

Following the guidelines published on 9 January, today Arcep is detailing its work on reviewing fixed broadband and superfast broadband market analyses by publishing the draft decisions that will apply from 2017 to 2020 for public consultation.

In these documents, Arcep analyses the current market situation, identifies the regulatory issues and challenges for the coming years, and proposes changes to be made in consequence. Its aim is to adapt regulation to the key objectives that have been identified, namely to step up investments in every region and to stimulate the development of a services market for businesses.


Accelerate the rate of investment in and migration to superfast optical fibre networks

Arcep welcomes the investment efforts that Orange has made, and wishes that they will continue and increase. The ability to satisfy the needs of citizens and businesses, and to achieve the objectives set by the France Très Haut Débit superfast broadband scheme will require a greater rate of investment, which will only be possible if every operators’ CapEx capacity is mobilised. The investment momentum must now spread to all market players, and to every part of the country. Through its actions, Arcep will work to stimulate this momentum and to lift any operational barriers, and so to accelerate superfast network rollouts and subscribers’ migration to these networks.

Arcep is thus seeking answers from stakeholders on two specific obligations regarding FttH:
· The first concerns facilitating the fibre connection between the street and the building in very high density areas, where every operator must deploy its own network at street level;
· The second concerns inter-operator operational processes for fibre sharing (checking eligibility, ordering access lines, repairing malfunctions, etc.).

Arcep is also proposing changes to the procedures used to access Orange infrastructure for optical fibre network rollouts, to take into account feedback based on experience and the needs of public initiative networks (PIN) that are being deployed as part of the France Très Haut Débit scheme.


Democratising fibre and helping businesses in their digital transition

Arcep has ascertained that there is a very insufficient degree of competition in the business market. It is therefore proposing a set of regulatory measures to seize the opportunity to create a competitive fibre market for small and medium enterprises as FttH networks are being deployed, and thereby stimulate the French economy’s digitisation.

The Authority is thus querying stakeholders on the relevance of the two access obligations pertaining to optical fibre for businesses:
· The first aims to create the conditions to allow a wholesale market populated by at least three suppliers to emerge, compared to the current one of only two vertically integrated players;
· The second aims to facilitate the development of higher quality products on FttH infrastructure, which are tailored to businesses’ multifarious needs.


What comes next?

The public consultation on these documents will last five weeks, after which they will be sent to the Competition Authority for an opinion, along with the responses received from market stakeholders during this consultation.

After having taken these responses and the opinion of the Competition Authority into account, the revised draft decisions will be submitted to a second public consultation, before the summer, then notified to the European Commission.

The final decisions will be adopted in the second half of 2017.


Civil engineering charges: taking feedback into account and strengthening the predictability of prices without undermining the initial core principles

Arcep is also launching a public consultation today on a technical paper that outlines the changes it plans to make to access charges for Orange local loop civil engineering, which hosts both the legacy copper local loop and new optical fibre local loops.

The current rules governing the pricing of this civil engineering were defined by Arcep in a decision issued in 2010, based on two guiding principles: cost allocation between copper and fibre in proportion to the number of active access lines, which allows each technology to bear a share of costs be proportionate to its market penetration; pricing for fibre downstream from concentration points based on the number of premises served, regardless of the volume of civil engineering employed, which enables a geographical balancing of costs that benefits the more sparsely populated parts of the country.

The strong increase in the use of Orange civil engineering to deploy optical fibre networks, coupled with feedback from market players that have experienced this decision in action, have led Arcep to hold a consultation on a technical review. First, the Authority wants to streamline the solution, as much in terms of pricing as collecting the data needed from users to establish these charges. It also wants to improve the predictability of the charges, given the fundamental role that civil engineering plays in the business plans of operators deploying optical fibre. Naturally, any changes that are made must not destabilise the players’ financial equilibrium.

This public consultation will run for six weeks, and a summary of the contributions will be published. Arcep will then hold a consultation on the draft decision that will replace the current decision. This final public consultation will come before the one to be held on copper pair pricing.



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