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October 19, 1995

FRENCH BILL ENVISAGES COMPLETE TELECOMS LIBERALISATION

By CBR Staff Writer

France will fully open its telecommunications market to all comers and will award its first licences in 1997, but France Telecom will remain responsible for basic services, Le Monde reported. Under the draft law proposal sent to industry and unions for consultation, France would impose no restricton on European telecommunications operators wanting to do business in France, but for non-Europeans, France would allow access on reciprocal basis, so for example, a US operator would be allowed to own no more than 20% of a French company – although by 1997, the equivalent US rule will almost certainly have been relaxed if not abolished. France will reasonably keep the number of cellular players restricted because of the limited number of frequencies available. At t he same time as throwing open the market to competition, France wants to maintain universal service, which access for everybody to the network, equal tariffs regardless of where a subscriber lives, a directory and free emergency calls. France Telecom will be given these responsibilities, and will have to make its accounting more transparent. It will be compensated for the costs it suffers in meeting the universal service requirement from contributions made by its competitors. The levels of these charges will be crucial.

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