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New Arcep chief calls for ‘affordable’ fixed and mobile services

Laure de la Raudière is officially the new chair of French telecoms regulator Arcep.

President Emmanuel Macron proposed de la Raudière for the job earlier this month, a move which surprised and dismayed some in the sector. Despite the objectors, among whom Iliad founder Xavier Niel, was the most vocal, de la Raudière was formally appointed to the post following  successful hearings in both the lower and upper houses of the country’s parliament.

She will serve a six-year term.

A quick recap on de la Raudière’s career history: as well as a lengthy stint with Orange – the root of Niel’s discontent – she was also involved in an early software analytics start-up and founded a consulting company, before concentrating on her current post, as MP for the Eure-et-Loir department, which she has held since 2007.

During her parliamentary hearing, de la Raudière shared her priorities for Arcep’s various areas of focus.

Key amongst them is addressing growing demand from consumers and businesses for “access to high quality telecoms networks, both fixed and mobile, in every part of the country, and at an affordable price,” she said. This will be “the cornerstone of Arcep’s regulatory focus.”

At the hearing de la Raudière outlined three priorities: maintaining a competitive and innovative environment; adapting regulation to meet the needs of specific areas; and focus on the environmental footprint of digital technology.

“We are fortunate to have a dynamic market, in which the sector invests heavily, innovates and keeps prices low, to the benefit of consumers. I want to continue on this path,” she said.

She highlighted weak competition in the enterprise services market though, which she said means reduced access to fibre for SMEs. The new regulatory chief indicated that she will pay particular attention to the provision of FTTH services “in order to determine whether the current regulatory framework, which is fairly recent, is starting to bear fruit – and this may take time – or whether it needs to be evolved.”

So, greater choice and lower prices for consumers and better access to full fibre, especially for SMEs. That seems like a fairly standard approach for any European regulator.

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