Paris, 31 January 2014
SFR and Bouygues Telecom have just announced that they have finalised and signed an agreement, whereby the two operators will deploy a shared cellular network that covers a portion of France.
ARCEP welcomes this agreement, and reminds the public that mobile network sharing deals are encouraged, under certain conditions, in the terms of the 4G spectrum licences that it established in 2011.
At a time when market competition is increasingly fierce, and operators’ expenditures continue to be high, especially for 4G network rollouts, resource pooling agreements can provide telcos with a way to reduce their costs and increase the benefits passed onto users, including increased coverage and a better quality of service from both operators.
In concrete terms, however, it still needs to be verified that certain conditions have been met. First, the two operators must remain independent from one another, in both their business strategies and sales. Second, it must be ascertained that the agreement will not squeeze certain competitors out of the market. Finally, the agreement must result in better coverage and quality of service provided to end users. These improvements must be quantifiable and verifiable over time.
In the coming weeks, ARCEP will work closely with the Competition Authority on performing a detailed examination of the agreement, to verify whether these various conditions have indeed been met.