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Research by Country/Region January 17, 2018  
France: Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

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A. CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICY GOVERNING ACCESS TO THE WORLDWIDE FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS BAND (3.4 TO 3.7 GHZ), LMDS (28 TO 31 GHZ) AND UNLICENSED BANDS

Current French government policy governing access to the worldwide fixed wireless access band (3.4 to 3.7 GHZ) is as follows: two bands of 15 MHz duplex in the 3.5 GHz band and four bands of 112 MHz duplex in the 26 GHz band were attributed to operators of broadband fixed wireless services in the framework of a tender offer in 2000. For detailed information on this tender, contact:

http://www.art-telecom.fr/publications/lignedir/ld-rlan-anglais.htm

There are two operators of broadband fixed wireless services in France and two operators of broadband fixed wireless services in the Département d’Outre-mer (French overseas territories). 15 MHz duplex in the 3.5 GHz band and 112 MHz duplex in the 26 GHz band are available in France for broadband fixed wireless activities.

ACCESS PROVIDERS
Below is the list of broadband fixed wireless operators:
- 9 Telecom Entreprise (3.5GHZ et 26 GHz), operator in France, http://www.9telecom.com
- Altitude Telecom (26 GHz), operator in North and South Normandy and Ile de France, http://www.altitudetelecom.com
- XTS Network (3.5 GHz), operator in Martinique, Réunion, Guadeloupe, and Guyana, http://www.xtsnetwork.com
- Cegetel La Réunion (3.5 GHz), operator in Réunion, http://www.cegetel.com

They obtained their licenses in August 2000 and have deployed their networks since that date. The leading equipment suppliers are Lucent, Cisco, Nortel, and Siemens.

B. DEMAND FOR BFW SERVICES

There is a strong demand for fixed wireless services in France. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has predicted that fixed and wireless broadband services are one of the biggest opportunities for telecommunication companies in France. At the end of 2002, the number of individual net subscribers in France was approximately 8.5 million, over 1.7 million of whom subscribed to broadband via ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber line) and cable, a 17.65 % increase over the previous 3 months.

France has quite a bit of potential for increased penetration since with only a 20% penetration rate, it lags behind most of its European neighbors. French households’ adoption of the Internet recently has been rapid, however. Observers estimate that broadband penetration will reach 22 % by 2005, and will account for almost two-thirds of household connections in 2006. Internet use is much higher among business subscribers. In large French businesses, Internet subscription reached 89 % in 2000, and approximately 75 % of French small and medium businesses had Internet access at the end of 2000, with an average of four personal computers connected to the Internet.

As ART (Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications), the French telecommunications regulatory agency, continues to liberalize the local loop, competitive pricing and better services should boost Internet access and demand, especially for high-speed connections. During the last quarter of 2002, 1.7 million people subscribed to a high-speed connection via cable and DSL (digital subscriber line). This was a 250 % increase in 2002 in ADSL, one of the best growth rates in the world. (Over 50 % growth was posted in Internet subscriptions overall in 2002.) At the same time, France has one of the lowest rates of cable TV penetration in Europe. Internet cable subscribers consisted of about 30 % of total broadband subscribers compared to about 70 % ADSL subscribers. As a result, DSL should have little competition from cable modems.

WI-FI
In November 2002, ART announced its decision provisionally to allow outdoor use and commercial services using Wi-Fi technology, primarily to facilitate the use of alternative Internet providers for high-traffic areas. The decision is provisional pending French legislation in the works to implement European Union directives, including what is commonly referred to as the telecommunication framework directive. The Ministry of Defense can prohibit Wi-Fi access points for outdoor use in or near what they deem to be "sensitive areas."

Fifty-eight (out of 95) metropolitan departments in France were "liberalized", allowing for Wi-Fi usage under the following conditions:
- Private interior use: No license needed. Signal strength in the 2.4 Ghz range must be under 100 mW. Signal strength in the 5150-5250 band must be less than 200 mW, while in the 5250-5350 band must be less than 100 mW or 200 mW with Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS), which means that the user monitors the frequencies in question and, if there are no other users in the area, may use signal strength up to 200 mW.
- Private exterior use: No license needed. Signal strength in the 2400-2454 Mhz band must be less than 100 mW; in the 2454-2483.5 Mhz less than 10 mW (except with permission from the Ministry of Defense and only on private property); use of the
5 Ghz range is forbidden.
- Commercial service: No license needed if Wi-Fi access points are directly related to an existing public network. A no-fee provisional 18-month "33.1 license" can be granted for those seeking to connect Wi-Fi hot spots.

For the other 37 departments in France, a slightly different set of rules apply:
- Private interior use: No license needed. Signal strength in the 2400-2446.5 Mhz band must be under 10 mW; in the 2446.5-2483.5 Mhz band must be under 100 mW; in the 5150-5250 Mhz band must be under 200 mW; and in the 5250-5350 Mhz band must be under 100 mW or 200 mW with Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS).
- Private exterior use: No license needed. Wi-Fi in the 2400-2446.5 Mhz band is not authorized. Signal strength in the 2446.5-2483.5 Mhz band must be under 100 mW (except with permission from the Ministry of Defense and only on private property); use of the 5 Ghz range is forbidden.
- Commercial service: No license needed if Wi-Fi access points are directly related to an existing public network. A no-fee provisional 18-month "33.1 license" can be granted for those seeking to connect Wi-Fi hot spots.

C. LICENSING

Operators of broadband fixed wireless services (BFW), like all operators, need to request a license and allocation of frequencies. The regulations change on July 25, 2003, at which time operators will no longer need to request a license but will have to declare themselves to the authority. Information on this new declaration method will be available on the site of the Authority (www.art-telecom.fr)

In most cases, Wi-Fi systems can be used without a license in France. ART issues licenses for commercial services.

Wi-Fi systems can be used for commercial purposes without a license for interior use (e.g., cyber-cafes, hotels, conference centers, airports). Otherwise, systems can only be used if they are directly related to an existing public network.

Any application should be written in French and addressed with five copies to:

Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART)
7 square Max Hymans
75730 Paris Cedex 15
www.art-telecom.fr

Articles L.33-1 and L.34-1 of the Posts and Telecommunications Code (decree 99-25, January 13, 1999, concerning the instruction of authorization require the establishment and usage of open and public telecommunications networks and the provision of telephone service to the public.

D. FOREIGN OWNERSHIP LIMITS

In current legislation, a company in which more than 20% of the authorized capital or voting rights are held, directly or indirectly, by foreign nationals, cannot obtain a network operator’s license. This is not applicable to people or legal entities belonging to a member state of the European Union or a country that is part of the agreement of the European economy or those subject to international commitments entered into by France consisting of a clause of reciprocity applicable to the telecommunications sector (Code des postes et télécommunications / Livre II: Les Télécommunications / Article L33.1 III). The law concerning the post and telecommunications will be most likely modified due to the changing European directives on electronic communications.

E. INTERCONNECTION TARIFFS

A network operator, with a license, has access to the rates of France Telecom, the national operator, as approved by ART.

F. OTHER POLICIES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING BFW

With regard to broadband fixed wireless services, operators have deployment obligations in addition to traditional obligations of operators with networks open to the public and operators providing phone services to the public.

For equipment to be marketed in France, it is necessary that it comply with both the CE Mark and the NF (Normes Françaises). The CE Mark is a mandatory mark for most of the products sold on the European Union market and it is often referred as the "Trade Passport to Europe" for non-EU products. Certificates issued by AFNOR (the French standards organization), which controls the coveted and highly regarded French “NF” Mark, certify that a product complies with all applicable French standards.

Association Française de Normalisation - AFNOR (French Standards Office)
11, Avenue Francis de Pressensé
93571 Saint Denis La Plaine Cedex
Tel: (33) 1 41.62.80.00
Fax: (33) 1.49.17.90.00
Web site: http://www.afnor.fr

G. TO WHAT EXTENT ARE BFW SERVICES BEING OFFERED BY DOMESTIC OR INTERNATIONAL FIRMS?

All broadband fixed wireless service operators in France are currently French. With the evolution of the French telecommunications sector, competition should attract new service providers, including most likely non-French companies.

H. CURRENT LIST OF BFW ACCESS PROVIDERS

The following is a list of broadband fixed wireless operators:
- 9 Telecom Entreprise (3.5GHZ et 26 GHz), operator in France, http://www.9telecom.com
- Altitude Telecom (26 GHz), operator in North and South Normandy and Ile de France, http://www.altitudetelecom.com
- XTS Network (3.5 GHz), operator in Martinique, Réunion, Guadeloupe, and Guyana, http://www.xtsnetwork.com
- Cegetel La Réunion (3.5 GHz), operator in Réunion, www.cegetel.com

They obtained their licenses in August 2000 and have deployed their networks since that date. The leading equipment suppliers are Lucent, Cisco, Nortel, and Siemens.

I. CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES, AND IMPORT DUTIES

There are regulations and procedures for all companies to follow, including foreign exporters into the French market. Applicants for broadband licenses should provide the following details in their documentation:

Project details:
- Description of the project for which the license is requested: terms of service permanence, availability and quality, standards applied, transmission, switching and access media envisaged, interconnections planned.
- License under article L.33-1(network open to the public): nature, characteristics and geographic coverage of the network, network rollout and deployment schedule, network rollout arrangements, subscriber connection and service access arrangements, types of terminal equipment used, use of the public domain, where appropriate.
- License under article L.34-1 (public telephone service): nature, characteristics and geographic coverage of the service, commercial launch schedule.

6 to 15% import duties on all telecommunications equipment should be expected. Specific details on certain equipment are available as well.

Customs Office (Centre de Renseignments des Douanes)
84 Rue d’Hauteville
75010 Paris, FRANCE
Tel: (33) 8.25.30.82.63
Fax: (33) 1.53.24.68.30
Email: crd-ile-de-France@douane.finances.gou.fr
Web Site: http://www.douane.minefi.gouv.fr

Telecommunication equipment which has not been tested by a certified European laboratory, and not type-approved by ART may not be marketed in France or connected in any way to the French public network or lines leased from France Telecom. Technical testing procedures for telecommunication equipment are the same for both foreign and domestic suppliers. The approval procedure is designed to ensure that equipment meets security requirements, does not cause disruptions to the network or users, and meets minimum interoperability requirements. Increasingly, ART's technical requirements are conforming with standards determined and developed by the EU, which are based on recommendations by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Requests for type-approval must be filed with ART by the manufacturer or qualified representative.

RESPONSE INFORMATION

This response was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service in Paris, France in June 2003. For further clarification please contact:

Myrline Mikal-Goide
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Embassy, Paris
Myrline.Mikal-Goide @mail.doc.gov

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