At the end of September 2023, ARCEP made public, two formal notices to comply with the French numbering plan it issued against operators Legos and Transatel. By doing so, ARCEP reminds the entire market that the use of mobile numbers must comply with the strict conditions set out in the National Numbering Plan [1], and that compliance with these obligations is primarily the responsibility of the allocated operator.

Legos and Transatel have been found in breach of rules introduced by ARCEP in the National Numbering Plan from mid-2018. ARCEP's decisions were prompted by a complaint from a French mobile network operator.

First, ARCEP sanctions the two operators for failing to comply with the prohibition of number sub-allocation. In France, operators cannot suballocate mobile numbers to third-party operators, as only operators who have been allocated mobile number resources can assign them to end-users (except in the case of portability).

Second, ARCEP further sanctions operators for failing to meet the two main conditions of use of mobile services i.e.:

  • Mobile numbers are used from a mobile access.
  • Mobile numbers are used to provide number-based interpersonal communications services to the public.

ARCEP notes that the two operators permitted the use of mobile numbers for conference call bridging services, radio broadcasting services, or the sending of authentication SMS. These use cases do not comply with the aforementioned conditions.

Transatel and Legos are therefore required to comply with the conditions governing the use of mobile numbers by January 2024.

While this compliance deadline may seem long, it does take into account the consequences that the formal notice will have for their customers, which are directly affected by its decision, since they will themselves have to comply with the obligations resulting from the National Numbering Plan, and in particular if they are regulated providers of electronic communication service providers:

  • Obtain their own mobile numbers, either directly from ARCEP, or through the transfer, approved by ARCEP, of resources previously made available to them by these operators,
  • Ensure that the services they provide are compatible with the conditions of use of mobile numbers. Failing this, they will have to migrate their services to the appropriate number category.