On November 28, 2014 the EC approved ARCEP’s draft regulation for the wholesale fixed and mobile voice call termination markets for the years 2014–17. However, it has cast doubt on ARCEP’s proposed regulation for SMS termination. The French regulator will now begin work with the EC and BEREC to find an appropriate solution.
The EC is seeking justifications from ARCEP regarding its draft decision for the SMS termination market
In late November 2014 the EC approved ARCEP’s draft decision for the wholesale fixed and mobile voice call termination markets (markets 3 and 7 of the EC’s former recommendation on relevant markets). In its fourth round of analysis, ARCEP, the French communications regulator, defined a separate termination market for each operator and proposed obligations of access, transparency, nondiscrimination, and price control for all. It is now free to adopt the measures, which will cover the period 2014–17. However, the EC has requested additional justifications for ARCEP’s proposals for wholesale SMS termination charges.
As Ovum research shows, France is one of only three countries in the EU (along with Denmark and Poland) to regulate wholesale SMS termination, which falls outside the scope of the relevant markets recommendation. According to ARCEP, the measures it has imposed have facilitated competition between mobile operators and led to the development of retail offers that include unlimited SMS. Nevertheless, the EC has questioned the need for new SMS termination regulation that could, in its opinion, hinder the development of instant messaging services such as WhatsApp and have a harmful effect on consumer welfare with respect to choice, quality, and price. The EC has launched a two-month period of investigation and discussions with ARCEP and BEREC, after which it will decide whether or not to approve the draft decision.
The Global Regulation of Mobile Termination Rates, TE009-001054 (February 2014)
France (Country Regulation Overview), TE009-001048 (January 2014)
James Robinson, Analyst, Policy and Regulation