Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Internet: the Competition Authority wants to alleviate the Orange

The Competition Authority has recommended, Tuesday, March 8, that the obligations incumbent on France Telecom on its Internet networks in major cities are "relaxed". "In the densest areas of the territory, alternative operators (Free, SFR) are now on a par with the incumbent operator (Orange) on the residential retail market and dominate the wholesale market," said a notice of the Authority, adding that these areas are "become competitive." The telecoms regulator, Arcep, imposed in the 1990s in the unbundling of copper networks, which help provide homes and buildings in high-speed Internet or DSL, to foster the emergence of other operators and therefore competition.

Specifically, France Telecom was obliged to rent these local networks to competitors, and offer "wholesale offers" for the use of networks in a highly regulated framework. That "has enabled the development of innovative offerings (triple play) at attractive prices for consumers," said the Authority.

Therefore, the regulation "which now requires France Telecom to provide wholesale offers and supervises the procedures must be streamlined to benefit the ordinary law of competition", recommends the institution. "This should help revitalize the area a bit, leaving more freedom to France Telecom, which continues to sell these offers operators without own networks such as Bouygues, Darty and Auchan Telecom, says one observer.

TO SEPARATION "functional" activities? But "in less dense areas as well as to business customers, the position of the incumbent remains strong" and should therefore Arcep continues to enact rules governing the wholesale offers in these cases- there, according to the Competition Authority.

In addition, the Authority will publish by eighteen months an assessment of how the fiber optics, to the new generation Internet, very high speed, has been deployed in France. The Competition Authority also evokes a division of Orange to separate its networks and service activity. The Commission emphasizes that Arcep now has the power to impose a "functional separation" between the networks of France Telecom, which had a monopoly until the 1990s, and its services business, as was done in energy.

"It is premature to comment on the appropriateness" of such a decision, but Constable telecoms must nevertheless "begin preliminary work" to eventually be able to use them if he wished, one day, says Authority competition. This debate is not new to the incumbent, who merely notes that he made the efforts required to ensure competition.

For more information: the opinion of the Competition Authority (. Pdf)

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