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OPTICAL FIBRE

Arcep publishes the main conclusions of its market analyses.
Objectives: accelerate fibre rollouts in the regions, involve all operators, and create a fibre mass market for micro-enterprises and SMEs 

Paris, 11 July 2017

Arcep is currently in the process of reviewing its analysis of fixed broadband and superfast markets for the period running from 2017 to 2020 (1). A synopsis was published earlier in the year which set out the regulator’s vision for the broadband and superfast market, and identified the regulatory issues and challenges for the coming years. The draft analysis decisions for fixed markets, which were submitted to a first public consultation and to the Competition Authority for advice in the first quarter of the year, have been completed and will soon be published for public consultation. Today Arcep is publishing a brief summary of the main conclusions of its analyses.

Optical fibre: pro-investment regulation, to involve all operators, and not just Orange, in fibre build-outs

Arcep recognises the substantial investments that Orange has made in the optical fibre market. The Authority now plans on taking action to help this momentum spread to every market player, so that everyone can “get on board the train” of superfast broadband. By mobilising every operator, the regulator hopes to maximise the sector’s investment and sale capacities, and thereby accelerate subscribers’ transition from broadband to superfast broadband access.

On the matter of accessing Orange civil engineering infrastructure, Arcep is strengthening its asymmetric regulation framework to step up and increase the fluidity of fibre rollouts performed by all operators employing Orange infrastructure, notably as part of projects led by local authorities.

Regarding access to the optical fibre (FttH) network, the consultations held by Arcep led Orange to propose changes to remedy the operational problems that its competitors were encountering in marketing fibre. The conclusions set forth are part of a pragmatic approach whose aim is to allow operators to perform their rollouts rapidly and efficiently. Arcep notes the improvements that Orange will be putting into action immediately. In light of these concrete changes, the regulator does not believe it is currently necessary to introduce specific obligations as part of asymmetric regulation, i.e. which apply only to Orange, which had been considered at one time. The “symmetric” regulatory framework for FttH, which applies to every operator, thus remains the framework of reference and could be enhanced in the coming months.

Business market: redrawing the competition map by January 2018, to democratise optical fibre access in micro-enterprises and SMEs, and help French businesses in their digital transition

For Arcep, the goal is to capitalise on the arrival of residential fibre to expand this market, which is currently heavily dominated by Orange. At stake: access products for the three million micro, small and medium-size enterprises in France which today have no fibre plan adapted to their needs. The objective is to provide them with a real choice, with innovations in fibre-based services, and at affordable prices, while also ensuring quality of service, notably guaranteed service restoration time in case of a malfunction.

By imposing several new obligations on Orange, Arcep’s actions aim to:

- Stimulate the emergence of new access products, halfway between residential FttH plans and customised solutions designed for large corporations, via tiered quality of service levels;

- Foster dynamic competition by laying the groundwork for the development of a wholesale market populated by at least three national infrastructure operators, dedicated to a business clientele;

- Allow a large number of retail market business operators to innovate by capitalising on this wholesale market, and on the ability to resale Orange FttH retail products.

These regulatory decisions are part of one of Arcep’s 12 strategic priorities, “Connected SMEs”, in addition to being in line with Arcep’s information-centric approach to businesses, notably via its Enterprise workshops that aim to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and constraints. In June, Arcep published a handbook for businesses, in partnership with MEDEF and CPME, whose purpose is to help enterprises in choosing their telecom products, and to encourage them to take advantage of competition between operators.

What comes next?

The draft decisions will be published for public consultation in the coming days, then notified to the European Commission, and adopted during the 4th quarter of 2017.

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(1) Market analysis decisions are the cornerstone of “asymmetric” sector-specific regulation. They define the obligations imposed on the operator or operators that enjoy significant power (SMP) in the market in question.



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