On December 23 2002 the Telecommunications Ministry approved a French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority decision of October 31 2002 to liberalize the operation of wireless networks which use the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) radio frequency band. These networks include those using wireless fidelity (Wifi) technology.

This decision is a response to the general demand by market players to launch new services based on Wifi technology and the authority's plan to make the conditions for granting the 2.4 Ghz frequency band more flexible (for more information please see "Telecommunications Authority Announces Broadband Plans").

Licensed operators wishing to set up terminals allowing wireless access to their telecommunications network - for example in high traffic areas ('hotspots') - will be able to install wireless access points to their network without prior authorization from the authority. In addition, service providers (eg, hotels) will be able to install wireless access points on their premises to allow their customers to connect to existing networks operated by licensed operators. However, operators and service providers must comply with the technical requirements set out by the authority.

Moreover, the authority has established guidelines for operators wishing to establish new wireless networks using the 2.4 GHz radio frequency band. These networks are seen as an incentive to aid the development of economically weak regions. Wireless technology solutions would enable the provision of broadband data transfer services for companies which are located in regions lacking adequate network coverage.

For further information on this topic please contact Robert Follie or Carole Arribes at Lovells by telephone (+33 1 53 67 47 47) or by fax (+33 1 53 67 47 48) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).