The Court of Appeal in Paris has backed the French telecom regulator Arcep over its decision ordering local cableco Numericable to comply with the terms and conditions set down by France Telecom (FT) for accessing its cable ducts when upgrading its fibre network. The watchdog was asked to intervene on 4 November 2010 to resolve a dispute between the two firms. Numericable has been actively upgrading its HFC networks with optical fibre using FT-owned civil engineering ducts via a series of agreements with the incumbent. However, given that a number of alternative operators are now accessing the former monopoly’s ducts, Numericable argued it should now be subject to the same terms and conditions for access. But in its 24 June 2011 decision, the Court of Appeal upheld Arcep’s position and rejected an appeal brought on the grounds of ‘discrimination’. Its ruling read: ‘The task of regulation assigned to Arcep by law gives it the power to impose on operators that fall under its purview restrictions and injunctions that affect the establishment, the content and the execution of their agreements and so restrict the principle of contractual freedom, for reasons of public policy in the economic sphere.’
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