French telecoms watchdog, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep), has launched a public consultation on a proposed increase in the tariffs for access to Orange France’s fully unbundled lines over the next two years, in a bid to bolster market liquidity and investments in next generation fixed access networks. Under the draft proposal, the incumbent telco will start charging EUR9.10 (USD9.63) a month per fully unbundled access line from 2016 (up from the EUR9.05 currently charged), with the monthly tariff set to increase to EUR9.45 in 2017. Meanwhile, the regulator proposed that the price for wholesale line rental (WLR) must not exceed its current level (EUR12.32) in 2016 and 2017. Arcep has invited all interested parties to submit their comments by 4 January 2016.
Arcep also said that the price cap marks a first step towards ‘more substantial changes’ to the country’s regulatory framework. The next round of analysis for broadband and superfast broadband markets, scheduled to be carried out in 2017-2020, will include the planned phase-out of the switched network and accelerated transition to superfast access. To that end, Arcep is planning on opening a broader consultation in 2016, with a view to establishing a second set of price caps for the period from 2018 to 2020.