The French competition authority, Autorite de la Concurrence, has reportedly received a complaint from domestic telco Orange France over the network sharing agreement between rivals Bouygues Telecom and SFR, which was finalised in February 2014, local newspaper Les Echos reports. Orange is allegedly looking for the deal to be suspended until a detailed analysis of its impact on the market has been conducted by the relevant authorities; the former monopoly telco reportedly deems the agreement as anticompetitive, as it covers the bulk of the country’s territory.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, although Bouygues Telecom and SFR had been in talks over the possibility of sharing their network infrastructure in rural areas of France since early 2012, it was not until July 2013 that the two companies entered exclusive negotiations. The two operators finally sealed the deal in end-January 2014, subject to regulatory approval; under the terms of the agreement, Bouygues and SFR will create a joint venture company to operate 11,500 mobile towers covering 57% of the population in underserved areas, eliminating 7,000 towers between them. They will share cell sites and antennas but not spectrum or core elements of the network, which they say will allow them to offer differentiated services to consumers. Following the strategic agreement, Bouygues Telecom and SFR expect to reap EUR300 million (USD416.61 million) a year in cost savings by 2017-2018.