JANUARY 26, 2009 -- French regulatory authority ARCEP (search for ARCEP) last week held a meeting with the main operators involved in optical fibre rollouts in France, namely France Telecom, Free, SFR and NumÃ©ricÃ¢ble, along with two companies that have been awarded public service delegation contracts, Axione and Sequalum. This meeting was an extension of the directions laid out by the Prime Minister at the ministers' meeting on 12 January devoted to stepping up the development of fibre access in France.
The operators confirmed their commitment to the ARCEP Executive Board to perform trials between now and 31 March 2009, on deploying fibre inside of buildings and to take part in an evaluation process based on a shared methodology.
Following several technical meetings under the aegis of the Authority, the operators signed the agreements needed to perform experiments and drafted an initial list of some 15 test sites in Paris (close to 2,000 households). At the Authority's request, operators have agreed to supply an additional list by 31 January of test sites outside of Paris and sites whose mutualised access point is located outdoors.
These trials will help inform the choices that the Authority makes on the terms and conditions of mutualisation inside of buildings. Feedback from the experiments will also make it possible to determine those specific cases where, in accordance with the law, the mutualised access point can be situated indoors.
By 31 March, the operators will provide ARCEP with the information needed to produce a first scorecard on fibre-optic rollouts in France, which will be enhanced progressively over time.
The Executive Board is pleased with the publication of the first three implementation orders of the Law on modernising the economy concerning fibre, and the Prime Minister's announcement of the upcoming publication of the last two orders.
Those attending the meeting were informed of the official introduction of France Telecom's reference offer for access to its ducts, pursuant to the ARCEP decision of July 2008. The Authority has said that it will continue to monitor developments surrounding this offer, and the conditions under which it is implemented.
Discussions on the conditions under which local authorities can be involved in optical fibre rollouts will also be stepped up within the public initiative networks committee, CRIP (ComitÃ© des rÃ©seaux d'initiative publique).
The operators and the ARCEP Executive Board engaged in a general discussion on the challenges and conditions surrounding fibre-optic deployments. Several Executive Board meetings devoted to continuing these discussions and to preparing the Authority's decisions are scheduled for the coming weeks.
Based on the results of the upcoming trials and of these discussions, ARCEP says it will establish the regulatory framework for mutualisation by mid-2009.
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