A little more than a month after his appointment at the head of telecoms, Jean-Ludovic Silicani Constable details the new regulatory framework for the development of very high-speed Internet networks. In his first interview, he explains why the Arcep decided to allow each user to install its own optical fiber in the buildings against what wanted France Telecom. Regarding the fourth mobile operator, Jean-Ludovic Silicani anticipates a grant of the licence in January. It considers likely that there are two candidates, including Free. According to him, there is a place on the market for a new actor whose arrival will lower prices.
You have to take the reins of the telecoms regulator. How are you this function
The regulation is an essential function of the State. Is it exercised, in all fields, by its own central services or via independent authorities such as the Arcep. This State strategist and organizer has a duty to watch and listening, whereupon it develops policies and provides the "rules of the game" of society. This requires a fruitful dialogue between experts and policies. When experts take the upper hand over the policy, leads to an enlightened dictatorship. The converse can lead to a blind democracy. I advocated an enlightened democracy. As Michel Debré, the administration must be a stand-alone servant of political bodies. Parliament, of course, always has the "last word". It is my design of independent authorities and thus of Arcep.
What are your priority sites
As the wish to Parliament and the Government, the implementation within a reasonable time of the very high rate for the whole of the population is clearly the priority of the Arcep: either by fixed networks, fibre optics, and mobile networks, with the allocation of the frequencies of the digital dividend. Today, on the very high throughput, Europe is behind countries such as the Japan or the Korea. It is essential to catch up to remain competitive. In the same way as sustainable development, the arrival of the very high throughput will disrupt our economy and our daily lives over the next ten years. This concerns the life of individuals since it will revolutionize areas such as medicine, education, home automation or even telework.
How do you take off the market for fiber
It is necessary to establish the regulatory framework for securing the decisions of economic actors and local communities. It is this framework that we announced and which, after consultation, should enter into force in autumn. First of all, it appears that the mechanism of competition by the networks is that which works best. It must therefore begin by defining the areas in which operators can compete and thus install their infrastructure and thus initiate the investment cycle. These areas, very densely populated, are about 5 million homes (approximately 150 communes), of which less than half are located in the Paris region, in about 20 towns. On these 5 million homes, 3 million live in buildings more of 12 units or accessible via a sewerage network in Paris. In these areas, an operator may request, from the outset, the operator charged by the co-ownership of the tongs of its building, installation of additional fiber which will be dedicated. However, it must assume the costs of installation, and part of the common costs of the construction of the network. In this area, investments, outside and inside buildings, are located between 3 and 4 billion euros.
France Telecom points the finger of the additional costs up to 40 induced by the decision to install several fibres...
Install several fibres implies additional costs of the order of 5 of the total investment, which will be the responsibility of the operator who will ask. These are infrastructures that will be used for the fifty years. To deprive of freedom of choice of the operator to low cost differential would be totally unreasonable. The European recommendations go in the direction of the model proposed by Arcep. The general interest, is not the interest of a single operator. But the interest of France Telecom is also investing in fibre: it has already fired fibres near buildings potentially serving millions of homes. Therefore, when the incumbent operator says that it might not invest in a very high-speed network, SFR and Free, this seems more due to a tactical position to a strategic choice.
At the Japan, NTT, the incumbent operator, saw double its market share in fibre optics. Do you think that the same thing could happen in France
The goal is clearly not create a monopoly in fiber optics, as in the Japan, where the incumbent's market share jumped to 70. This is especially true that such a network may be subject to unbundling, unlike copper network. Indeed, the technical solution adopted by NTT PL and for which opted France Telecom, does a passive sharing of horizontal network a posteriori or unbundling. We would therefore have a "supermonopole"!
What do you think of the evolution of the price of the fourth mobile licence that the Government plans to spend $ 206 million to EUR 240 million
The order of magnitude of the value of the licence is retained.
It does therefore not fundamentally change the equation. Now that this amount is clarified, we should be able to launch the call for nominations before the end of July for a grant of the licence in January 2010.
It is common for many people that Free will be the fourth mobile operator. What do you think
The records are not even filed. Nothing is so acquired for person. From what I hear, there is a non-negligible probability that there are at least two candidates. Moreover, the selection procedure may well prove to be unsuccessful, as happened the last time. Arcep will examine records against many criteria, including financial and technical project credibility.
But is there really room for a fourth operator
All studies show. I think that the arrival of a fourth operator will lower prices. For example, overseas, where there are more operators, certain offers are cheaper than in metropolitan France. However, I do not think a price war, which is always a quick war to bring down the players in place. France, the market is mature and the players are solid. The role of the Arcep is to allow that to build a sustainable market where competition is regulated, so, next to the lower prices, investment in networks and innovation in services to develop.