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French telecoms regulator concerned about under-investment in networks

The head of France's telecoms regulator is concerned that operators' focus on content will reduce the amount they can spend on building their networks, the Financial Times has reported.31 Jan 2017

Sébastien Soriano, chairman of the autorité de regulation des communications électroniques et des postes (Arcep) told the Financial Times that operators are increasingly investing in content as they compete through bundles of telecoms and TV services.

"I would prefer to hear them with a clearer message of investing in fibre, in 4G, in 5G, than this kind of permanent discussion about content," Soriano told the newspaper.

If French telecoms companies continue trying to differentiate themselves by content "there is a high risk that the market goes to a duopoly, which for us is terrible," Soriano told the Financial Times. "Duopolies are very hard to regulate."

Arcep has few powers to prevent this, he said, and the trend may mean that a new regulatory framework is needed, he said.

Arcep published guidelines earlier this month to encourage all market players in France to invest in fibre. This will stimulate competition, and accelerate subscribers' migration to the technology, it said.

Arcep now plans to publish three draft market analysis decisions for consultation: on 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.

"These drafts will then be submitted to the competition authority for an opinion, along with the responses received from stakeholders as part of the public consultation," it said.