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MOBILE COVERAGE IN THE OVERSEAS TERRITORIES

Arcep expands its "mon réseau mobile" mapping tool to include France's overseas departments 

Paris, 10 July 2018

Today Arcep is publishing the coverage maps and quality of service findings for mobile operators in the French overseas departments on its monreseaumobile.fr website. As stated in the overseas Blue Paper submitted to the President of France on 28 June 2018, this publication allows consumers in the overseas markets to compare operators' performance, and for public policymakers to obtain an diagnosis on the state of mobile connectivity in their region. All of the data are available as open data files.

A heavy dose of transparency, on behalf of mobile coverage in overseas markets

After Metropolitan France, Arcep's interactive mapping tool for comparing mobile operators, monreseaumobile.fr is now available for Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion. It includes:

- Operators' coverage maps, generated based on digital simulations: these maps cover both voice and texting and mobile internet services. They provide a distinction between areas where there is very good coverage, good coverage, limited coverage and no coverage, for voice and texting services.

- Mobile service quality measurements, carried out in the field from April to June 2018 to test quality of service. In excess of 350,000 measurements were taken across more than 15,000 km, in virtually every municipality in these departments including, for the first time, in tourist areas.

Arcep's aim for these data is to inform consumers and stimulate operators' investments, to help further mobile coverage. As part of a data-driven approach to regulation, it is also making these data available as open data files, to allow them to be widely used and cross-referenced to create new services and comparison tools. Lastly, Arcep is contributing to shared efforts by publishing, in beta version, the population databases for these locations, which were created for this publication using available data.

Findings that reflect the tremendous development of 4G

Most mobile operators in France's overseas departments began deploying 4G as soon as they were allocated their frequencies, back in November 2016. Most of them in most of these locations provide extensive 4G coverage, to the benefit of many of their customers. As their November 2018 4G coverage obligation deadline approaches, Arcep will work to ensure that their rollouts continue.

Regarding quality of service findings, 4G has had a decisive impact on these results, and allows certain operators to make a real difference in the mobile data services they market to their customers. Some operators thus offer very high speed services, in some cases even faster to those available in Metropolitan France, which has a direct impact on web browsing and the fluidity of the customer experience.

  • In Guadeloupe, Orange and SFR have both deployed their 4G network extensively across the region. They therefore have high 4G coverage rates, which has a positive effect on the quality of the services they provide to their customers, particularly in terms of average speeds measured and web page load times. They also score well on voice/texting services. The other operators in the region are due to deploy 4G between now and November 2018, which is their first rollout deadline.

  • In Martinique, Orange and SFR have both deployed their 4G network extensively across the region. They therefore have high 4G coverage rates, which has a positive effect on the quality of the service they provide to their customers, particularly in terms of average speeds measured and web page load times. The average rates measured for these two operators are comparable to those measured in Metropolitan France in 2017. These operators also score well on voice/texting services. The other operators in the region are due to deploy 4G between now and November 2018, which is their first rollout deadline

  • In Guiana, although Orange and SFR have covered a substantial portion of the population (more than 80%) for 4G, their results are penalised by less extensive coverage of the territory, which is below what was ascertained for the other regions. In particular, mobile coverage on the roadways tested (chiefly RN1 and RN2) was weak, as much for voice/texting as mobile internet services, the result being that quality of service findings are well below those measured in the other regions. The other operators in the region are due to deploy 4G between now and November 2018, which is their first rollout deadline.

  • In Réunion, Orange and SFR have both deployed their 4G network extensively across the region. They therefore have high 4G coverage rates, which has a positive effect on the quality of the service they provide to their customers. Average web page load times are very good, including on the roadways tested, and the average speeds provided to their customers are high. These operators also score well on voice/texting services. The other operators in the region are due to deploy 4G between now and November 2018, which is their first rollout deadline.

  • In Mayotte, Orange and SRR have both deployed their 4G network extensively across the region. They therefore have high 4G coverage rates, which has a positive effect on the quality of the service they provide to their customers, particularly in terms of average speeds measured and web page load times. These operators also score well on voice/texting services. The results are nevertheless below the findings for Réunion. The other operators in the region are due to deploy 4G between now and November 2018, which is their first rollout deadline.

There can nonetheless be significant disparities in quality between operators and between the regions: Arcep invites everyone to compare them on monreseaumobile.fr, and to view the findings in accordance with their needs and their area.

A summary presentation of the results for each of these territories is included in the annex to this press release.

Upcoming work:

- QoS audit for mobile services in Metropolitan France in 2018: publication in September 2018;
- Verification of compliance with 4G rollout obligations in the overseas departments and territories set for November 2018;
- Data map enhancement, notably thanks to crowdsourcing.

Monreseaumobile.fr, a data-driven regulation tool

Monreseaumobile.fr is Arcep's interactive mapping tool that allows anyone to compare mobile operators, and provides two kinds of complementary information:

- Operator's coverage maps. Produced based on operators' digital simulations, these maps provide information on the entire country or region, but offer a necessarily simplified picture, so not fully reflecting reality;

- Quality of service measurements, taken by Arcep in real-life conditions. These data reflect the reality in the field but, by their very nature, do not make it possible to obtain an exhaustive view of the territory.

After Metropolitan France, all of this information is now available for Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion.

A heavy dose of transparency on behalf of mobile coverage

With these data, Arcep hopes to spur operators to further improve their mobile coverage. The aim is to use a heavy dose of transparency to redirect the basis of competition between operators, so that it not be focused solely on price but also on network performance. These enhanced coverage maps, which provide a distinction between areas where there is very good coverage, good coverage, limited coverage or no coverage, for voice and texting services, make it possible to accurately target future coverage needs. The information available on monreseaumobile.fr also seeks to encourage and improve payback on mobile operators' investments in regional connectivity.

Coverage maps verified by testing in the field

Operators are required to publish and provide Arcep with reliable coverage maps. To ensure they are reliable, Arcep conducted audits in the field, in each of these regions and for each of the technologies. Maps that do not, as yet, appear to be sufficiently accurate, and for which additional verifications need to be performed, have not been published.

Making data available as open data files, so that anyone can reuse them

Data-driven regulation also means making as much data as possible available to everyone.

Arcep makes the coverage maps, for each of the regions, each of the technologies and each of the operators, available as open data files in a reusable mapping format, as well as all of the raw data from the quality of service tests on: www.data.gouv.fr/fr/datasets/monreseaumobile

The purpose of making these data available is to enable anyone to use them, to test their accuracy and cross-reference them to create new services and tools for comparing mobile operators' coverage and quality of service.



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