SFR revealed further progress in the rollout of its LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks as the France-based operator readies itself for the end of a 4G-network sharing and roaming agreement with Bouygues Telecom.
Bouygues Telecom agreed to sell 230 of its mobile towers in France to independent towers company Cellnex for €80 million ($88 million), with the option to sell a further 270 towers in a second stage.
France's mobile operators submitted amendments to existing national roaming agreements by the Jun. 15 deadline set by regulator Arcep, indicating that they intend to phase out such agreements by either end-2018 or 2020.
Orange CEO Stephane Richard and Patrick Drahi, the president and founder of SFR parent Altice, indicated this week that they do not expect to see a further consolidation of the French telecoms markets at least in the near future.
SFR launched 4G or LTE Advanced services at maximum download speeds of 337.5 Mbps following the implementation of tri-band carrier aggregation (CA) technology into the company's network.
Bouygues Telecom said it achieved speeds of more than 1 Gbps in tests on its 4G network with Huawei, becoming the latest operator in Europe to join what some have dubbed the "Gigabit LTE" club at least in terms of trials.
Bouygues Telecom reported good commercial performance in the first quarter of 2016, and said it is on track to return to long-term growth in sales and profits.
Ovum said the popularity of quad-play services in Europe has been damaging for pure-play mobile operators, which tend to be the smallest operators in their respective markets.
Arcep figures showed that the decline in mobile services revenue that started on the French market in mid-2011 continued throughout 2015, but that the rate of decrease remained on a downward trend.
Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile are the first of France's four mobile operators to gain authorisation for 4G sites in the 700 MHz spectrum band.