ARCEP releases the preliminary findings of the observatory on electronic communications markets in France, the investment and employment observatory and changes in the mobile price index in the residential market in 2012 

Paris, 23 May 2013

Investment and employment observatory: record spending in 2012 and stable employment levels

  • Operator spending increased substantially for the third year in a row - exceeding €10 billion for the whole of 2012, or €2 billion more than in 2011. This is the highest level since 1998, the year France's telecommunications market was liberalised. A portion of this increase is due to the sums operators paid for 4G mobile licences: €2.6 billion in 2012 for 800 MHz band frequencies, compared to €936 million in 2011 for licences in the 2.6 MHz band. In addition spectrum acquisitions, operators spent a record €7.3 billion during the year, with mobile operations accounting for roughly half of their capital expenditures. Their estimated investments (networks, frequency licences, etc.) in high-speed mobile, both 3G and 4G, came to €4 billion in 2012, compared to around €2.4 billion in 2011.

Electronic communications operators' spending

Billion €

white : Total spending
blue : Spending excl. spectrum acquisitions

In 2013, ARCEP will deepen its analysis of operators' investments, in particular to ensure that they are meeting their rollout obligations.

  • The number of people employed by electronic communications operators remained relatively unchanged in 2012 (+0.1% compared to 2011). Job levels as a whole have improved over the past three years, increasing by 1.2% in 2011 and by 1.6% in 2010, and this on the heels of a steady decrease during the previous ten plus years. Operators employed 129,000 people directly in December 2012.

Electronic communications operators' direct jobs


Square : Former Regulatory Framework
Diamond : New Regulatory Framework

In 2013, ARCEP will work with all of the other administrations concerned to achieve a deeper understanding of the employment situation among the different digital industry businesses.

The electronic communications market: volumes up but operators' revenue down

Electronic communications operators' wholesale and retail market revenue reached €50.9 billion in 2012, which marks a 3.3% drop from the year before - due in part to a decrease in call termination rates. The retail market alone represents €42 billion in 2012 (-4.1% compared to 2011), of which €39 billion for electronic communications services alone (excluding income from handsets and equipment, directories, etc.) - down by 4.4% on the previous year. This decrease concerns both fixed and mobile services revenue.

On the flipside, traffic indicators reveal a sizeable increase in consumption, and particularly mobile usage. Mobile traffic rose to 231.2 billion minutes in 2012 (+13.3 billion minutes compared to 2011), 183.1 billion SMS were sent, and data traffic originating on mobile networks grew to 95,500 terabytes which marks a 67.1% increase over the year before. Meanwhile, mobile calling traffic grew by 13.6% compared to 2011.

The retail market saw a drop in revenue, a strong increase in traffic and decreased prices. ARCEP estimates the decrease in mainland France's residential market in 2012 at 11.4%, including a sharp 28.4% decline for device-free service plans alone.

An average annual decrease of 11.4% in the price of mobile services in metropolitan France in 2012

Customers with post-paid contracts (flat rate plans, including capped) saw the price of their services drop by 12.6% in 2012. Although the percentage of the decrease varied depending on their plan and consumption habits, the price of all post-paid mobile service plans dropped considerably last year.

The price decreases were especially significant for the heaviest consumers of calling minutes: -15.5% for the heaviest users, -13.4% for average consumers -9% for light users. The widespread availability of high-volume calling offers proved especially beneficial to heavy users, while the introduction of flat rate plans for light users resulted in an 8.2% price decrease for this customer segment which had in fact seen their mobile bills rise by 1.4% in 2011.

The price of pay-as-you-go services decreased by 8% in 2012, after having gone unchanged in 2011: this decrease can be attributed to the introduction of PAYG cards that include high-volume calling and SMS components. It is also due to the advent of cards with no expiry date, which means that light consumers can spread out their usage more evenly and reduce their spending.