French Regulator Asks for Input from Public Safety on Multinetwork Mobile Plans
Monday, May 18, 2020 | Comments

French telecom regulator Arcep issued a call for expressions of interest from public-safety organizations and businesses about the development of multinetwork mobile plans.

Multinetwork mobile plans, which combine the networks of operators in France, are not prevalent in the French market. However, Arcep said multinetwork mobile plans can satisfy some of businesses’ and public sector players’ specific needs.

The regulator said the ability to hand over to another network when necessary, be it for human use or machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, could have vital advantages to public-safety groups and other organizations. Arcep cited highly resilient mobile communications, continuity of mobile services over a vast geographical expanse and minimizing the impact of network failures.

“This demand for multinetwork plan is particularly prevalent amongst entities tasked with ensuring public safety and security, or with protecting a company’s critical goods and interests,” the regulator said in a statement.

One example is installing several subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in a compatible mobile device, each of which has its own phone line and number, or the plans that some mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) sell that offer customers the ability to choose their mobile network when subscribing but do not allow them to later switch over to other networks.

As part of this inquiry, which is focused on the business market, Arcep is also querying stakeholders on the terms and conditions that should be attached to the sale and use of these products. The hypothetical situation where these plans would be available to every enterprise in France could threaten existing regular plans and dampen French operators’ incentive to invest in mobile networks to gain an edge in terms of coverage and quality of service. This is why Arcep confined the call for expressions of interest to business markets.

The call for expressions of interest will run from 14 May to 17 July. Enterprises and public-sector entities interested in multinetwork plans are invited to detail their operational needs on the dedicated platform and email partage-reseaux@arcep.fr. More information is here.

Last year, The French Ministry of Interior (MoI) Home Affairs Technologies and Information Systems Department ST(SI)2 selected suppliers for its critical communications broadband solution. Under PCSTORM, Orange will offer French special forces and other agencies full priority and pre-emption on the Orange 4G network, and the carrier plans to ensure access to all other French networks if its own network is not available.

In January, SFR, the second-largest commercial operator in France, selected Motorola Solutions to provide a Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) solution through SFR’s nationwide network.

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