13 July 2017
| James Pearce
Arcep has revealed plans to impose several new obligations on Orange that will force the incumbent to open up competition in the market to promote high-speed fibre services.
The French regulator noted Orange’s dominance in the corporate sector, and said its new rules would help to democratise optical fibre access in micro-enterprises and SMEs, promoting competition in the market.
The new measures will include imposing an obligation on Orange to allow rival service providers to re-sell its products to the enterprise market. It will also see controls placed on wholesale offers for businesses, to avoid “excessive” and “predatory pricing”.
“Arcep recognises the substantial investments that Orange has made in the optical fibre market,” the regulator said in a statement. “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.”
It said it will achieve this by strengthening its asymmetric regulation framework around rival’s access to Orange’s engineering infrastructure. Arcep also proposed changes to remedy operation problems that competitors had encountered in deploying fibre to the home (FTTH).
Orange CEO Stephane Richard said the change would increase the competitive pressures faced by the firm, but told a business conference last week that he was relieved Arcep had no imposed tougher regulation on its consumer arm.
"For us the main thing is there is no asymmetric regulation of Orange in fibre-optics. That has been respected," he said.
Arcep is to implement the changes from January 2018, but will carry out a formal public consultation first, with final decisions due to be published by the end of November.