The French incumbent telecommunications operator, France
Telecom, has today issued a press release in which it confirms that it will
prepare a voluntary commercial offer for wholesale access to its ducts by the
end of 2007.
Details have not been published, but it is clear that:
a) France Telecom has made a specific proposal to the
regulatory authority ARCEP, in the context of ARCEP's public consultation on
very high bandwidth networks, in particular FttH.
b) France Telecom envisages either a reciprocal commitment
from other operators, or, more likely, a form of symmetric regulation that
would mandate non-discriminatory duct access on all owners of infrastructure
that is suitable for the deployment of optical fibre.
France Telecom already offers, for more than a decade, duct
access on a case-by-case basis. Access has been granted, for example, in
circumstances where municipalities refused to grant rights-of-way to new
operators, and the municipality instructed these operators and France Telecom
to come to an agreement for the utilisation of France Telecom ducts.
It remains to be seen to which extent a legal/regulatory
basis can be identified or established to impose wide-ranging duct access on
telecommunications operators that do not have significant market power on a
relevant market, and on entities that are not providers of electronic
If today's announcement is to result in an effective offer, engineering
rules will have to be developed, to enable large-scale sharing of ducts and
associated manholes, handholes, cabinets, optical distribution frames, etc. and
related procedures for installation and maintenance.