The Loi de finances rectificative pour 2003 retroactively reduces the annual fee to be paid by holders of individual licences to operate fixed public telecommunications networks and voice telephony for the year 2003.
In addition, as a result of successful legal action dating back to 1998, the regulatory authority ART is now, insofar as explicit and justified requests are received from operators, proceeding to arrange the reimbursement of a large portion of the annual licence fees for 1999, 2001 and 2002.
The 2003 annual fee for nation-wide L.33-1 (public network) and L.34-1 (voice telephony) licences is reduced to €20.000.
For smaller geographies (max. 1 département, or French overseas territories) the corresponding annual fee is €10.000.
For operators declared as having Significant Market Power, the annual fee is €80.000.
The full text of the Loi de finances rectificative pour 2003 can be accessed by clicking here. Article 90 contains the stipulations discussed in this news item. Further articles of the same law concern fees for frequency usage.
Important note: this law only applies for the year 2003, and only concerns the annual licence fees, not the one-off licence fees due at the time of granting of a licence.
Furthermore, the French regulatory authority ART has initiated the process of granting refunds to licensed operators relating to previous years.
This is the direct result of a legal challenge, dating back to 1998, on which the Court reached a decision in June 2003. The French State did not appeal the Court ruling.
As a consequence, annual licence fees for the years 1999, 2001 and 2002 are eligible for partial, but very substantial, refunds, upon application of operators to the regulatory authority ART.
The reasons for the absence of the years 1998 and 2000 (at this point in time) is too complex to describe in a website news item. For further information, or for a discussion and/or assistance, please contact Yves Blondeel
The refund possibility does not, at this stage, concern the one-off licence fees paid at the time of granting of a licence, although legal challenges relating to one-off fees are envisageable.
The ART's operational budget is not affected by the reimbursements, given that it is the French Treasury which is effectuating the payments.