France's Orange to go all-IP on fixed network

17 February 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Arcep, the French telecoms regulator, has started a consultation on Orange’s plan to phase out the country’s public switched telephone network and move to an all-IP service.

As incumbent, Orange has already told other operators in France as well as the regulator. Arcep has said that it will not oppose the change but it says that “because such an action would hold considerable consequences for the entire sector, Arcep requires Orange to comply with a series of advance notices: in particular, Orange must give notice of the shutdown of the PSTN in any part of the country at least five years in advance.”

Orange has not given any specific date for the shutdown, says Arcep, but it has held preliminary talks with operators and plans another in March.

The regulator said: “Arcep will be especially mindful of ensuring that the conditions under which this technological transition is carried out guarantee fair and effective competition between operators, and that all end users are given the proper support throughout the process.”

According to Orange, it is concerned that “the long-term sustainability of its legacy telephone network could be challenged in the coming years”, and says that “the equipment and components designed specifically for this network are becoming obsolete, and the network itself becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as equipment suppliers are abandoning the technology”.

Orange will not abandon its copper-pair access network, the incumbent has told Arcep.