French minister of information technologies and post Francois Fillon said Thursday that the legislation he is preparing for telecommunications deregulation in France will be ready in mid-January, and will be debated by Parliament before next spring, says Les Echos. A preliminary text, which could include a change in France Telecom’s status, will be ready this week for public debate between now and mid-December. Whether or not the preliminary text includes change for France Telecom will depend on what France Telecom president Michel Bon thinks of the company environment. The legislation, he said, would be oriented around five major ideas: creating an environment favourable for the competitiveness of French companies; the guarantee of the right of customers to simple service access; assurance that the same quality of service will be provided to everyone for the same price; establishment of independent regulatory authority; and, the valuation of France Telecom’s assets. Meantime across in Brussels, Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert has come close to giving France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom AG the amber light to proceed with their Atlas alliance, saying that while it will take well into next year to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts on any approval, if they want to risk having to unscramble the whole thing, they will be free, on getting provisional approval, to start earlier. A formal approval in principle is expected today, despite the lack of any commitment in France or Germany to liberalise telecommunications infrastructure on January 1 – the promise is that use of railway and electricity networks for all but speech telecommunications will be allowed from July next year in both countries. If Atlas opens before July, court challenges from the likes of British Telecommunications Plc are expected.