Electronic communications networks have historically been built within a framework of international standards defined by the International Telecommunication Union. ITU rules still apply to national markets, particularly in the area of frequencies.
By the same token, the legal framework that governs electronic communications as well as Arcep’s responsibilities derives to a large extent from European regulations. Hence the strong international and European roots of Arcep’s activities and teams.
The law stipulates that Arcep will lend French authorities its expertise on international issues. In fulfilling its own responsibilities, Arcep is also required to interact directly with the European Commission and its fellow regulatory authorities, notably through established regulators groups.
Arcep is regularly required to interact with European institutions, and especially with the European Commission. This interaction occurs especially as part of the notification procedure for ex ante draft regulations (particularly market analyses).
In a more general fashion, Arcep lends its technical expertise to European projects, to the minister responsible for telecommunications and the Secretariat-General for European Affairs (SGAE), in addition to participating in drafting French authorities’ positions on electronic communications and postal matters.
Relations with the European Union also result in Arcep’s participation in the work done by the committees defined by European directives, such as the Communications Committee (COCOM) which addresses a large portion of the issues that fall under Arcep’s purview, the Radio Spectrum Committee (RSCOM) of national experts, and the Postal Directive Committee.
BEREC: The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.
A European regulation from 2009 (which is currently under review) created the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) to establish a more formal framework for the joint actions taken by independent regulatory authorities, and relations with European institutions. BEREC is especially active on issues relating to the development of fixed and mobile connectivity in Europe, protecting an open internet and roaming.
BEREC’s membership is made up of national regulatory authorities (NRA) from the 28 European Union Member States (with observer status given to EFTA countries and candidate Member States).
By pooling NRAs’ experience and expertise, BEREC advises European institutions, and notably the European Commission. It participates in Phase II investigations when the Commission expresses serious doubts on draft market analyses notified by national regulators, and drafts common positions, opinions, best practices and reports through some one dozen working groups. It consults regularly with the sector on its draft decisions, and is managed by its Office in Riga, Latvia. As an advisory body to European institutions, BEREC can also contribute to European law-making for the electronic communications sector.
Arcep’s departments play an active role in the work done by the different BEREC expert working groups.
Of particular note, BEREC supports national regulators’ consistent and efficient enforcement of Open internet directives and guidelines by having common tools and methods for detecting net neutrality violations, and by fostering dialogue between these authorities on concrete implementation matters. BEREC also draws on this experience to evaluate the success of the regulation’s implementation on a regular basis.
In 2017, BEREC’s rotating chairpersonship was occupied by the Arcep Chair. In 2018, he we will be the BEREC Vice-chair in charge of international cooperation, net neutrality and 5G mobile.
Visit the BEREC website
Eradicating roaming charges in Europe: BEREC’s contribution
Roaming charges have been a thing of the past in Europe since 15 June 2017! This means that French users can now call, surf the web and download files at no extra charge when travelling in another European Union country. In other words, they can roam like at home, using their existing plan.
"Roam like at home" marks a major milestone in strengthening the Digital Single market. Arcep played an active role in its achievement, through its contribution to the work that BEREC did in assisting the European Commission to produce draft regulations that resulted in the end of roaming charges, and in their concrete implementation.
Today, European NRAs are working within BEREC to ensure these rules are implemented in a consistent fashion across the European Union.
The open internet in Europe: BEREC on the front lines
Freedom to access and distribute information and content. Freedom to use and provide applications and services without discrimination, networks’ obligation to be neutral... On 30 August 2016, BEREC published its net neutrality guidelines. A major milestone for the open internet: an issue that has interested BEREC for a long time, having published reports on its various facets since 2010. These guidelines provide every regulator with all of the tools its needs to implement the Open Internet regulation of November 2015 in a consistent fashion, across all Member States. Since its adoption European regulators, including Arcep, have worked on its interpretation and on translating it into regulatory actions.
EPRG, the European Postal Regulators Group
To address postal market issues, the European Commission created the European Postal Regulators Group (EPRG) on 10 August 2010. Its membership is composed of independent national regulatory authorities from the 28 EU Member States, and observers (NRAs from EFTA and European Union candidate nations). The purpose of the EPRG is to examine best practices and assist the Commission, to create a Single Market for postal services.
Visit the EPRG website
Cross-border parcel delivery in Europe: good news from the West!
European regulation on cross-border parcel delivery came into effect on 22 May 2018. It increases transparency on the price of cross-border parcel deliveries for consumers and businesses in Europe, and introduces monitoring of this fast-growing market. The goal: to make parcel deliveries between the different European Union countries more affordable and more efficient for online retailers across Europe. It is synonymous with European national regulatory authorities’ newfound responsibilities – which in France is Arcep – which will be required to collect data on parcel operators (type of products, pricing, revenue and volume of parcels handled) and to assess whether universal service prices are reasonable (in France it is La Poste that provides universal postal services) for cross-border parcel deliveries.
The Telecoms Code has been officially adopted! (December 2018)
FRATEL, network of French-speaking telecommunications regulators
Created on Arcep’s initiative during a symposium of French-speaking regulators in Paris in June 2002, FRATEL is the network of French-speaking telecommunications regulators.
The first meeting of the network took place in Bamako in 2003, whose highlights included the adoption of the FRATEL mission statement and first action plan. The aim of this informal network is to provide a forum for dialogue and experience-sharing between its 55 members, all of which are bodies responsible for regulating and monitoring telecommunications networks in countries where French is a national language. The private sector is also in attendance at these meetings.
Arcep has been the network’s Executive secretary since its creation, and a steering committee (with a chair and two vice-chairs) manages the network’s activities. Arcep Chair, Sébastien Soriano, will be the network’s President in 2019.
An annual action plan has been adopted every year since the inaugural meeting in Bamako. They cover five types of activity:
- The information and experience-sharing seminar;
- The annual meting during which the steering committee is elected, the annual report for the current year is adopted, along with the action plan for the following year;
- Graduation of the Masters’ in digital regulation (RegNum), hosted by Telecom ParisTech;
- The Fratel.org website’s maintenance;
- FRATEL’s relations with international bodies.
Visit the FRATEL network website
Providing telecommunications regulation training for over 10 years
Launched in January 2014 by Telecom ParisTech, ARCEP in Burkina Faso, Arcep in France, French national frequency agency, ANFr, Broadcasting authority, CSA and CNIL, the purpose of the Master’s in digital economy regulation is to satisfy the need for specialised training for senior /regulatory authority executives, government departments responsible for regulating the digital economy, operators and digital project stakeholders in Sub-Saharan, French-speaking Africa in economic, technical and financial telecommunications regulation. It includes a Masters in digital regulation (RegNum), and three Badges (xx awarded by leading business/engineering schools): one in electronic communications regulation (RegTel), which began over 12 years ago, one in internet regulation (RegInt) and the newly created one in electronic finance and postal regulation (REgFeb). It is a two-year course that is taught/given/dispensed in Ouagadougou, Paris and Abidjan.
EMERG network for Mediterranean countries
Arcep also contributes to the work being done by EMERG (EuroMEd network of ReGulators) which seeks to build cooperation between electronic communications regulators that are part of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership (between the (The European Union (EU) and 10 other Mediterranean basin nations: Algeria, Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey). Arcep also attends the annual plenary meetings, the spotlight meetings and certain specialty workshops.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an organisation that operates under the aegis of the United Nations, and is responsible for setting international telecommunications rules. It establishes the sector’s technical standards that ensure network interconnection (including numbering), manages frequency band assignments and assigns orbital slots to satellites launched into space. It is also working to improve underprivileged communities’ access to information and communication technologies (ICT).
Providing support to the Government (Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs and the Directorate-General for Enterprise), Arcep participates in the work done by several commissions, and in the annual Global Symposium for Regulators which has been bringing together electronic communications regulators and government agency representatives since 2001, to discuss electronic communications regulation and digital technology in general.
Visit the ITU website
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Through the Minister responsible for postal affairs, Arcep has occasionally been called upon since 2005 – the year it became responsible for regulating France postal sector – to contribute to the UPU, a specialised United Nations agency whose work, on a concrete level, pertains very little to regulation.
Visit the UPU website
European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)
The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) and its 48 member country representatives are dedicated to promoting harmonised trade, operational, regulatory and technical policies between its members, working in tandem with the ITU and the European Commission. Its secretarial duties are fulfilled by ECO (European Communications Office), which contributes in particular to organising the work of the CEPT independent committees: Electronic Communications Committee (ECC), the Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP) and the Committee for ITU policy (Com-ITU). CEPT regularly produces work at the behest of the European Commission (mandates and reports) and thereby participates in harmonising frequency use in the EU.
Arcep is involved in several project teams and working groups devoted to spectrum and numbering in particular. It also participates in CEPT work devoted to preparing ITU conferences and assemblies.
Visit the CEPT website
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The OECD makes important but non-prescriptive contributions in several areas pertaining to electronic communications, and every two years publishes a benchmark report on the Digital economy outlook.
Working in tandem with the Ministry for Economy and Finance, and the Secretariat-General for EU Affairs (SGAE), Arcep helps to prepare OECD publications on matters that fall under its purview, and follows the work of the OECD Committee on Information, Computer and Communication Policy, and particularly that of its Working Party on Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy. Arcep also participates in the Network of Economic Regulators (NER) which promotes dialogue between regulators operating in a variety of of sectors, such as water, energy, rail transport and electronic communications.