France to amend law on Arcep’s power to sanction

8 Jul 2013

France’s Constitutional Council has revoked legal provisions governing the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes’ (Arcep’s) powers, thus stripping the telecoms watchdog of its authority to ensure implementation of its decisions and enforce sanctions, La Tribune reports. According to the article, the Constitutional Council made the decision as it considered that Arcep was in non-compliance with the French Constitution’s principle of separation of power. The government will propose new decrees in parliament to reinstate sanctions procedures as soon as possible, but in the meantime, Arcep will not have the authority to enforce its statutes in cases currently awaiting a final decision. The Constitutional Council’s ruling came in response to the application for a ‘priority preliminary ruling on the issue of constitutionality’ filed by domestic cableco Numericable in April 2013, wherein the cable operator argued that the principle of separation of powers of investigation and sanction was not met within Arcep.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Arcep fined Numericable EUR5 million (USD6.41 million) for failing to comply with its November 2010 ruling calling for amendments to its fibre-optic network contracts. The watchdog considered that certain clauses relating to operational procedures provided for in Numericable’s contracts for the sale of cable networks and applied by the operator when upgrading its networks with optical fibre, had to be modified in accordance with the provisions applicable to all telecoms operators deploying FTTx networks. The regulator’s decision was confirmed by a decision of the Court of Appeal of Paris of 23 June 2011. Arcep argued that Numericable took more than a year to implement the necessary changes – rather than the two months decreed in its ruling. Under these conditions, Arcep pronounced against the operator, pursuant to Article L. 36-11 of the Post and Electronic Communications (CPCE) code.