Brussels, 10 September 2019 – MVNO Europe welcomes French telecommunications regulator ARCEP’s draft decision outlining the procedure terms for awarding 5G-related radio spectrum (the 3490 – 3800 MHz band) in Metropolitan France. The association representing MVNOs active on European markets calls on the regulator to confirm the wholesale network access obligations it intends to impose on future licensees.

This summer, ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes) published a proposal concerning the procedure and applicant obligations for the deployment of 5G networks in France. In this proposal, among other things, ARCEP requires that entities applying for an initial minimum amount of radio spectrum make formal commitments, including the provision of Full MVNO access. MVNO Europe is pleased to see that this approach is in line with the approach ARCEP adopted back in 2011, when it drafted the terms for the 800 MHz and 2,6 GHz spectrum assignment proceedings, as it consequently led to the development of a diversified MVNO sector in France, allowing for innovation, enhanced competition and fairer prices on the French market.

More specifically, MVNO Europe welcomes provisions of the draft that future radio spectrum licensees will have to commit to (1) enable MVNOs to offer differentiated services (i.e. services different from those that the Host MNO will provide itself), (2) refrain from imposing exclusivity terms on MVNOs without due justification (i.e. MVNOs should be able to conclude multiple wholesale access agreements with different operators), (3) provide wholesale access to (Full) MVNOs on reasonable economic terms (i.e. preventing margin-squeeze on MVNOs) and (4) enable MVNOs/MVNEs/MVNAs to serve markets with new (5G) RAN technologies simultaneously with host MNOs.

If confirmed, those obligations will enable French MVNOs to effectively serve French society and allow them to remain innovative and agile in the provision of tailored solutions for their customers (including consumers but also companies active in industrial, service, and public sectors). This is essential to guarantee the digital transformation of small and very small businesses across the French territory.

Jacques Bonifay, the Chairman of MVNO Europe, is convinced that “ARCEP’s draft conditions for the deployment for 5G will help France to secure a regulatory landscape allowing for competition, innovation and benefiting all end-users”. He also underlines “the absolute necessity for ARCEP to confirm the draft wholesale access requirements when it will submit its final text to the Government in the next few weeks”. Finally, he invites “the European Member States that have not yet determined their terms for the upcoming own national 5G auction procedures to inspire themselves from ARCEP’s text”.