Consumer protection, changing uses and innovation, efficient number management: Arcep adopts a decision updating the national numbering plan

Via ARCEP - Press Releases

Jul 30, 2018

Paris, 27 July 2018

Today, Arcep is publishing Decision No. 2018-0881 establishing the national numbering plan and its management rules, which updates the framework governing the assignment and use of numbering resources. This decision contains measures for protecting consumers against fraud and abuse, in line with the work being done by the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF), to foster innovation and support new uses, and to improve how the scarcity of numbering resources is managed.

Providing users with better protection against fraud and abuse

Arcep has seen practices emerge that have created tremendous dissatisfaction amongst users (bill shock, spam calls, inability to call certain numbers from Metropolitan France or the overseas departments). To curtail these practices, which consumer protection associations are also criticising, Arcep is proposing a series of measures, including:

  • Supervising the price of directory enquiry services which has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, with the average price of a call increasing by more than 400% between 2005 and 2016. Arcep has set a maximum rate that that will come into effect on 1 August 2021, which is the same as the one that applies to other short and special numbers: €3.00, including taxes, per call, or 80 cents, including taxes, per minute.

  • Supervising caller ID spoofing practices, which enable enterprises to provide streamlined customer support, while organising their call centres in different locations. Having ascertained that this practice resulted in number spoofing, Arcep will be introducing a set of measures on 1 August 2021 aimed at governing its use, and has established a series of recommendations for operators, including the implementation of measures that make it possible to immediately interrupt calls or messages using spoofed numbers

  • Issuing a reminder of the obligation for all special and short numbers to be accessible across the whole of France, having observed that operators have deliberately made some of these numbers inaccessible, particularly to callers from the overseas departments and territories.

Encourage innovation and support new uses

Keeping a constant watch on how uses are changing - notably through its annual Digital market barometer - Arcep wanted to adapt its regulation to help foster innovations and support new uses. Its draft decision proposes the following measures in particular:

  • Relax the conditions under which users can have several mobile numbers attached to their mobile phone (e.g. separate personal and professional numbers), even if the phone can only house a single SIM card.

  • Allow fixed numbers which, up until now, were only dedicated to calling services, to now be made available to SMS and MMS services, and thereby enable businesses to use these methods to communicate with their customers.

  • Permit operators to assign their longer mobile numbers, designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) market, to customers located around the globe, and no longer only in France.

  • Substantially increase the availability of MNC (Mobile Network Codes) to support the development of 4G (LTE) technology in professional mobile radio (PMR) networks and superfast wireless networks. Together, Arcep's measures must make it possible to increase the number of available codes from 100 to 20,000.

More efficient number management, to avoid a dearth and to meet the growing needs of French businesses

Spurred by new uses, demand for numbering resources is growing. To support the growth of French businesses, Arcep is planning a series of measures to achieve more efficient management of these numbering resources:

  • Streamline number management, as demand for these resources from French users continues to increase: Arcep plans on assigning all new numbering resources for a default period of two years, and to impose a system for assigning numbers to users on a block by block basis, to avoid fragmentation and companies' temptation to use only the most attractive numbers.

  • Introduce new eligibility criteria for numbering resource assignments, to make market stakeholders more accountable: Arcep plans to have requests for number assignments from market players that have not paid the taxes they owe on their existing resources deemed ineligible, as well as those coming from players that have not provided Arcep with their annual report on the use of their numbers.

  • Simplify some of operators' procedures, notably by encouraging them to submit their requests electronically, through an extranet, and by shortening their annual report.

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