France Telecom cuts interconnection charges
One week after an Internet strike...
France Telecom has cut the charges it makes on rival telecoms companies that use its network infrastructure, a move the French national telecoms regulator said would lower call charges.
The move comes a week after French Net users held a 24-hour boycott of the Internet in an attempt to force down dial-up charges (see French Internet strike 'a success', claims organiser). The charges will fall by an average figure of 14.4 per cent, and will apply to Internet connections and voice services.
Jean-Michel Hubert, chairman of the Autorite de regulation des telecommuncations (ART), said: "The lowering of rates should facilitate the development of the market and increase its competitive character."
Currently, France Telecom's rivals spend some 30-50 per cent of their costs on interconnection fees to the former monopoly. ART believes the cut will allow them to challenge France Telecom more effectively. That should please the Association of Unhappy Internauts, which staged last week's boycott in an attempt to persuade FT to adopt a flat-rate structure for Internet dial-up charges.
France Telecom has said it is opposed to the idea, but the interconnection charge cuts could pave the way for a rival to offer users just such a deal. France Telecoms's 60-odd rivals, of whom Cegetel and Colt Telecom are by far the biggest, welcomed the cuts but said they wanted further refinements to be implemented over the next two years. Specifically, they demanded Internet access to be made a special case, and an incremental cost basis instead of a fixed connection charge and a duration-based call charge. ®