France’s telecoms watchdog Arcep has notified the European Commission (EC) of its draft decision on its analysis of the wholesale market for voice call termination on mobile networks, and is launching a concurrent public consultation which will run to 11 October 2010. The draft decision covers the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013 – the watchdog’s third regulatory cycle – and advocates maintaining current voice mobile termination rates (MTRs) in metropolitan France until mid-2011, and for their gradual reduction in overseas departments and territories (DOM-TOM). The regulator plans on designating Bouygues Telecom, Orange France and SFR in metropolitan France, and Dauphin Telecom, Digicel, Orange Caraibe, Orange Reunion, Outremer Telecom, SPM Telecom, SRR and UTS Caraibe in DOM-TOM regions, as having significant market power (SMP) in the mobile voice call termination market. Moreover, Arcep plans on imposing non price-related access obligations, as well as non-discrimination and transparency obligations on all the abovementioned operators, along with an accounting separation and cost accounting obligation on Bouygues Telecom, Orange Caraibe, Orange France, SFR and SRR.
In addition, the watchdog plans to compel all SMP operators to comply with an obligation to charge cost-oriented prices. Arcep’s draft decision specifies the terms of application of this obligation by setting the ceiling tariffs for voice call MTRs for all cellcos. Under the plan, wholesale mobile voice termination rates will be maintained at EUR0.030 (USD0.039) for SFR and Orange, and at EUR0.034 for Bouygues Telecom – until 30 June 2011. Concerning DOM-TOM areas, the corresponding MTRs will be levied at EUR0.080 per minute for Dauphin Telecom until end-2011, falling to EUR0.050 for 2012. Digicel’s wholesale MTR rates will be EUR0.040 and EUR0.025, respectively for the same period. Other charging rates for 2011 and 2012 are: Orange Caraibe, EUR0.040 and EUR0.025; Orange Reunion EUR0.045 and EUR0.028; Outremer Telecom EUR0.055 and EUR0.028; SRR EUR0.040 and EUR0.025; and UTS Caraibe EUR0.080 and EUR0.050.
Arcep will set the ceiling tariffs to apply for the remainder of the three-year period in future decisions, based in particular on the cost model that is currently in the process of being revised for mainland France, and which will be revised for overseas markets in 2011. In all instances, the ceiling prices will be symmetrical and established to reflect the incremental costs of a generic efficient operator. They will be set by 31 December 2012 at the latest, in accordance with the EC recommendation.