In an interview with the Opinion, the President of the French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority gave an update on the upcoming arrival of 5G, the audiovisual law and the need to modernise European competition law.
For Sébastien Soriano, manufacturers will be at the heart of the 5G award even if they will not be part of the licensing process. Indeed, it is "all the actors of the economy who will in the future be users of networks linked to the Internet of Things (IoT)". But it is up to the Telecom sector to enable this evolution. "Today, operators are focused on standard offers. Their core business is the consumer market, not the corporate market, and the future is certainly there". Especially since companies do not yet seem ready for this frequency. "Last year, the Arcep offered them the possibility of making pilots in 5G, without much success. In the short term, it is therefore not a bad thing to reserve 5G for major telecom operators. Our bet is that they will change the way they work and make tailor-made solutions to meet the needs of companies. They didn't do it with 4G, which is what many large groups complain about". It is possible to imagine that 5G licences could be granted to telecoms operators in return for obligations or commitments to improve their offers to companies. "Tomorrow the Arcep could become an arbitrator in charge of settling disputes between operators and their customers concerning the relevance of the offers of the former to the demands of the latter". Contrary to popular belief, France is not falling behind in 5G. This one is still planned for next year. "The government is in the process of completing its scoping letter. For our part, we will put our draft procedure, including the operator-business relationship, out for consultation at the end of May/beginning of June. By the end of the year, operators will know how many 5G frequencies they each have, their costs and the obligations attached to them".
According to him, the audiovisual sector, in the midst of a transition, will probably no longer control its distribution network in the long term. Just like the car of tomorrow, the television set could be transformed into a voice assistant. "The audiovisual sector must be able to access the 5G services of telecom operators, such as SNCF or Carrefour, and we can even imagine an appropriate obligation for this specific sector and everything related to culture and pluralism [...] All companies must have access to these infrastructures and of course the audiovisual sector. In addition, I think that this would allow this sector to deal more calmly with the question of the future of DTT if it has access to 5G". Having defended the operators in their conflict with TF1 last year, he believes that "it is the big chains that manage to extract value from these negotiations, which raises a question about pluralism. The audiovisual law could provide a framework where we are currently in a purely commercial negotiation. I am confident that the law will provide a framework with flexible, non-discriminatory, reasonable and cost-reflective rules".
Regarding a possible consolidation of Telecom in France, the President of the Arcep is firm. "There is no news on this subject. Arcep's priority is investment [...] We have reached a model in which prices are attractive to the customer and investment capacity is high: these expenses have increased by 37% in three years, to nearly 10 billion euros annually. Why change a model that works? " However, Mr. Soriano considers that this is not enough to resist the Gafa and the takeover of new intermediaries. "In the long run, the end customer may no longer have to deal with the telecom operator. The latter would become a simple supplier of commodities to smartphone manufacturers, who would then take over margins and customer relations. [...] This is a global risk and an additional reason to focus on terminal regulation". For him, competition law could solve this problem provided that it "is part of a clear vision of the economy and globalization. For this to happen, competition law must be adapted to the economy of the 21st century. Today, in a growing number of sectors, the challenge is to concentrate the strike force (market share, data, R&D, rare talents, etc.) to increase scale effects. To meet this challenge, European competition law must be more concerned with innovation". According to the interviewee, there are two possibilities: to make access to structuring innovation platforms non-discriminatory and to ensure that they are openly accessible to the European ecosystem. "The second challenge is to create scale effects to participate in global competition. ...] In a targeted way, competition law must make it possible to find a compromise on these technological and innovation issues".
Read the article
Source : L'Opinion