Version updated on 14 May 2020
The implementation of containment measures and the resulting significant increase in digital use has pushed electronic communications networks to their limits.
To help ensure the consistent availability of electronic communications services and networks throughout the state of public health emergency, Ordinance No. 2020-320 of 25 March 2020 (the "Electronic Communications Equipment Ordinance"), introduced by the French Minister for Economic affairs and Finance, provides measures adapting certain timeframes and procedures applicable to the installation or modification of electronic communications equipment.
Later, the Electronic Communications Equipment Ordinance was amended by Ordinance No. 2020-560 of 13 May 2020 in order to adapt the applicable deadlines following the entry into force of Law No. 2020-546 of 11 May 2020 extending the state of public health emergency to 10 July inclusive.
These measures are however (i) strictly limited up to and including 23 June 2020, and (ii) only apply provided that the building, installation, development or modification of a radio equipment is made strictly necessary to ensure the consistent availability of electronic communications services and networks.
The Electronic Communications Equipment Ordinance is intended to adapt the following four administrative procedures.
OPERATION OR MODIFICATION OF RADIO EQUIPMENT
The obligation to provide an information document to the local authority for the operation or modification of radio equipment is suspended, by way of derogation from article L.34-9-1(II.B) of the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code.
Nevertheless, the operator is required to inform, in advance and by any means, the relevant local authority of such planned operation or modification, and shall update its situation up to and including 23 July 2020.
ESTABLISHMENT OF A RADIO STATION IN FRANCE
By way of derogation from article 43 of the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code, the operator of a radio station may now decide to establish a radio station without the prior authorisation of the National Frequencies Agency (Agence Nationale des Fréquences, or ANFR), insofar that such establishment is strictly necessary to ensure the consistent availability of electronic communications services and networks.
The operator is nonetheless required to inform the ANFR, in advance and by any means, of such planned establishment, and shall update its situation up to and including 23 September 2020.
APPLICATIONS FOR ROADWAY AUTHORISATIONS
The time limit to process authorisation applications for the installation of temporary electronic communications equipment or in the context of urgent interventions that are strictly necessary to ensure the consistent availability of electronic communications services and networks, has been reduced to 48 hours. Upon expiry of this time limit, a lack of response from the authorities constitutes acceptance.
TEMPORARY INSTALLATIONS AND ADAPTATIONS
Any temporary construction, installation or adaptation necessary for the continuity of electronic communications networks and services is exempted from the formalities required by the French Urban Planning Code pursuant to its article L421-5 section b, and may remain in place up to and including 23 August 2020 in order to enable their removal.
 These measures were initially limited to the state of public health emergency period.
 The update was initially supposed to take place within a period of one month after the end of the state of public health emergency.
 The update was initially supposed to take place within a period of three months after the end of the state of public health emergency.
 The installation was initially possible for a period of up to two months after the end of the state of public health emergency.
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This legal update is not intended to be and should not be construed as providing legal advice.
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