French regulator sets regulatory framework for France fibre deployment

15 December 2017 | James Pearce


Arcep has set the regulatory framework that will govern how Orange will roll out fibre services and access after more than a year of consultation and development.

The French regulator has defined the asymmetric regulation that applies to Orange for three key broadband and superfast broadband markets: wholesale local access provided at a fixed location, wholesale central access provided at a fixed location for mass-market products, and wholesale high-quality access provided at a fixed location.

The structural decisions, which come after months of consultation with both the French incumbent and its rivals, will shape regulation for the next three years with the aim of accelerating fibre deployments in France.

In an interview with GTBlast year, Arcep head Sebastien Soriano warned that France was falling behind the rest Europe in the deployment of fibre, and said the country needed to speed-up rollouts to keep up with the European Commission’s Gigabit Society plan.

Arcep said: “Changes to the regulatory framework will enable more fluid rollout processes thanks to a more streamlined civil engineering offer from Orange, in addition to making alternative operators more autonomous and improving the indicators used to monitor quality of service, and so to be able to prevent any deterioration of the network.”

Orange has proposed changes that it hopes will address operational difficulties its competitor have found when marketing their own fibre products, with the regulator finding these changes satisfactory enough that it will not immediately introduce specific obligations on the incumbent.

Soriano said: “Arcep has thus put a pragmatic approach on the table. Of course, if it does not work Arcep could employ methods that will be more stringent for Orange, imposing an obligation of means and no longer of results.”

Arcep has imposed new obligations on Orange when it comes to the business market, however, as it looks to “democratise optical fibre access in micro, small and medium enterprises”.

Orange currently dominates this 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”.

Soriano added: “We have high ambitions for the business market. We will therefore keep a very close eye on these developments. Here, the first half of 2018 will be critical, and we hope to see a change in model with the arrival of wholesale market players who are capable of bolstering competition in the fibre market for businesses.”