New Arcep head says environmental impact among priorities

New Arcep head says environmental impact among top priorities

29 January 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The new president of France’s telecoms regulator has officially taken office, setting out as her priorities digital coverage of the whole country, an open internet and environmental impact of technology.

President Emmanuel Macron nominated Laure de La Raudière (pictured) as head of Arcep for a six-year term on 5 January, and her appointment was confirmed yesterday by publication in France’s official journal.

She resigned as a member of the French parliament — the Assemblée nationale — for Eure-et-Loir last week in advance of her nomination. She is the first politician and first telecoms engineer to hold the post: she has a degree from Télécom Paris university and worked for Orange for 11 years.

In an address to her new colleagues, whom she called “dear Arcepiennes, dear Arcepiens”, she paid tribute to her predecessor, who has moved on to head France’s mapping agency, IGN.

“Taking over from Sébastien Soriano is no easy task, and I would like to tell him how grateful I am for the work he has accomplished and for the way in which he chaired the authority to make it more accessible and open to society. and communities.”

De La Raudière called for “territorial equity” for both fixed and mobile. Her remit includes not only mainland France but also its overseas territories, from the Indian and Pacific oceans to the Caribbean and including French Guiana in South America, all legally part of France and the European Union.

“The health crisis has only amplified this issue, with the development of teleworking or distance education, or even online commerce, including for local businesses,” said de La Raudière. “Every French person, regardless of where they live, should not be deprived of high-performance internet access at a competitive price.”

In her political career, which started in 2007, she served on the Economic Affairs Committee of the Assemblée nationale, where she looked at digital coverage, blockchain, net neutrality and very high-speed broadband.

From 2018, she co-chaired a study group on cybersecurity and digital sovereignty within the Assemblée nationale.

During her confirmation hearings before parliament — she had to be approved by both the Sénat and the Assemblée nationale before yesterday’s confirmation — de La Raudière said: “The requirements of citizens and businesses to have quality telecom networks, fixed as well as mobile, everywhere in the territory and accessible at competitive prices will form the basis for the regulatory challenges of Arcep.”

She also emphasised the importance of work on the digital environmental footprint. “Arcep will have to examine the way in which regulation can contribute to the objective of sustainable development while maintaining ambitious objectives of network deployment.”

In her Sénat hearing she said: “Arcep will also have to ensure that a competitive market is maintained in order to be able to maintain offers at an attractive price and promote innovation. We are fortunate to have a dynamic market, with a sector that invests a lot, that innovates, and with attractive prices for consumers.”