(Last update : Fri, 20 Oct 1995)
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Press Statement made by François FILLON, Minister for Information Technologies and Post

(cliquer ici pour la version en langue franšaise)

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Interministerial Committee on the Information and Service Highways

The interministerial committee for information and service highways met on the 16 October 1995. The meeting was chaired by the French Prime Minister and took the following decisions as proposed by Mr FILLON, Minister for Information Technologies and Post.

1 - Careful study of the 635 propositions for experimental trials lodged in reply to the call for propositions at the beginning of 1995 lead to the identification of 170 projects as being "of public interest". These projects have already got under way or are about to begin. By way of example, 7 projects concern administration, 6 audio-visual, 11 are cultural, 15 finance, 6 press, 5 research, 6 health, 27 on education, 2 tourism and 6 for transport.

In particular, 3 large National experimental platforms will be set up as will 30 regional platforms which will cater for several experimental service projects.

These large platforms cover the entire country as there is at least one platform for each region.

France Telecom will initiate 11 of these :

- a National ATM network,

- 4 experimental sites which will each provide fibre optic links to 20 000 homes between now and 1997 (in the towns of Bourges, Narbonne, Paris and Rennes),

- 6 experimental sites for an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) each offering 3000 connections (in the towns of Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Le Mans, Reims and Toulouse).

The other two large National projects are the following :

- RENATER II, a new generation of the National network for technology, education, and research specially set up for Research Centres, Institutes for Advanced Studies, Universities and companies before the end of 1996,

- and a project to set up a network using RENATER which will link secondary and primary schools in 13 regions from 1995.

Local authorities will initiate 12 of the large regional project platforms and companies will set up 8 such projects.

A further 194 projects will continue to be studied until the end of 1995.

2 - Among those projects which were considered the most innovative, a certain number of experimental trials (notably half the large regional platforms apart from those run by France Telecom) cannot be started as the regulations stand today and require special permission to be granted to deviate from laws on telecommunications or audio-visual transmission.

The Government has, therefore, decided to submit a bill to parliament before the end of the year which will be intended to make conditions favourable for the setting up of the experimental trials. This bill will be presented to the Cabinet on November 15.

The bill will propose the creation of an experimental licensing system which will allow operators to deviate from the current legal framework for a limited period of time and across a limited geographical area. This system will be reserved for a small number of projects of general interest notable for their innovative character, for conditions which associate users and for their economic feasibility. It will thus allow for trials on the use of cable networks for multimedia services such as telephony, for new services and advanced telecommunication functions in teleports, technologies for digital land transmission, multiplexed transmission over microwave channels which can be complementary to cable networks in rural areas, and pay services (such as video on demand).

3 - The financing of the most innovative projects was made favourable through research and development aid granted by the Ministry Information Technologies and Post.

48 projects will receive the 50 million francs made available for this purpose in 1995. A grant of 300 million francs of which 100 million is reserved for small and medium companies via ANVAR(*) is part of the bill for the 1996 budget for the Ministry of Information Technologies and Post to be better able to support innovative projects.

4 - The Minister for Information Technologies and Post and the Minister for Culture have decided to combine their resources to support the manufacturing of multimedia products destined to be transmitted over a network (on-line services), by setting up a fund of 30 million francs to aid in the creation of on-line multimedia products and to back the creation of optical memory supports (CD ROM).

(*)National agency for innovation and research

5 - Mr FILLON proposed as an objective that access to the INTERNET should soon be available to all French citizens, at an attractive and homogeneous price throughout the country. Before the end of 1995, France Telecom will offer a national access service to the general public to those offering access to the INTERNET, at the price of one local call throughout the entire country. Everyone will be able to connect to the INTERNET access supplier for the price of a local call.

6 - With regards to regulation on encryption, Mr F. FILLON made it clear to the Committee that the use of encryption to protect a password, an access code, a subscription number, a credit card number for authentication purposes requires a simple declaration by the supplier when the service is being set up without any form of prearranged permission.

7 - Accepting that France is under equipped in multimedia terminals, the Prime Minister requested that Mr F. FILLON submit within three months a proposal for measures that might be taken to make favourable the equipping ot households and companies with multimedia terminals.

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