Christel Heidemann, CEO of Orange, pays off Arcep

Orange CEO Christel Heidemann had a lot to say — and more to say — in the Senate on November 30th. Heard by the upper house economic affairs committee, she attacked Arsep, the telecommunications cop, and regulation in general, on which she regrets “contradictory injunctions.” The incumbent leader feels caught between its infrastructure commitments, the company’s economic balance sheet, government policy decisions and new sustainability demands.

The threat of punishment if something goes wrong

Christel Heidemann criticizes, in particular, “the fragmented work of public policy, when, on the one hand, the administrative authorities hold part of the equation in their hands” – she speaks of Arsep – and, on the other hand, the legislator who sets the course “without tools” .

She insists on “commercially resisting new proposals that consume network bandwidth by financially supporting part of the costs”, and wonders “how, when the value generated by networks in France falls by almost 46% in ten years, to invest in the infrastructures of tomorrow, network virtualization and the cloud.” These include lobbying by Orange and other carriers for Netflix, Meta and Amazon to contribute to the cost of telecom infrastructure.

We find there the classic arguments of telecom operators, and, moreover, the French Telecommunications Federation should not delay at its annual conference their re-nomination this month. But under these assumptions, the CEO of Orange is “surprised by the threat of sanctions for delaying deployment in the AMII zone (urban areas, ed.)”, which are putting pressure on the operator from Arcep. In her opinion, “even if we were several tens of thousands of catches behind, which we argue about,” the current situation would be far from justifying sanctions.

Separation: Lawsuit Against Arcep Opening Soon

Especially since Orange is criticizing Arcep for not honoring its request to increase the price of copper splitting (the price other commercial operators pay Orange to use their pipes to sell ADSL subscriptions to).

“Maintenance costs per link, which are fixed costs, increased by 37% between 2018 and 2021, and this increase will increase as the transition to fiber accelerates. In 2021, the copper cable fleet decreased by 15%. line rate at €1.84 per month. Also, due to inconsistency in settlements, from 2021 Orange will no longer reimburse all of its engineering costs between unbundling and civil engineering unless Arcep makes the necessary decisions, this is €228 million in revenue that we we won’t get.

According to Christel Heidemann, “Arcep’s price regulation results in a transfer of value from the infrastructure operator to commercial operators, which puts Orange in an unsustainable economic position.” “Arcep did nothing when everything was planned and announced. Time passes and costs pile up,” adds the CEO, who announces that he is preparing to “bring a serious lawsuit against Arcep’s decisions.”

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