Telecommunications universal service in France

Michel Berne (Associate Dean, INT Management, Evry, France)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Publication date: 15 August 2008



The paper aims to show how the introduction of the concept of universal service in the French telecommunications sector was impacted by the existence of a strong national tradition of public services. It also aims to show that universal service, as it is defined by the European telecom regulatory framework, was not the only possible set‐up. It also seeks to show how the concept of universal service was adapted to the French national situation and spread beyond the telecommunications sector.


The approach of the paper is chronological, starting with an analysis of the French tradition of public services and then showing how the discussion developed in France on the topic of universal service in the telecommunications sector. Then the paper deals with the practical implementation of universal service in the telecommunications sector and other sectors in France.


The paper shows that even though the French traditional views on public services did not make it easy to implement the European version of universal service in the telecommunications sector, it nevertheless happened. Universal service even spread beyond the telecommunications sector in France.

Research limitations/implications

The paper concentrates on French views on the topic and does not study the opinions of other stakeholders (the European Commission, other member states) as regards the French national tradition of public services.

Practical implications

The paper can be used as a guide to ongoing discussions on the evolution of universal service in Europe as it provides alternate views on the topic.


The paper provides a comprehesive review of the topic.



Berne, M. (2008), "Telecommunications universal service in France", info, Vol. 10 No. 5/6, pp. 121-137.

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