The latest figures from French telecoms regulator Arcep provide a stark reminder of the pressures being faced by France's operators, which spent €2 billion more in 2012 than in 2011 but recorded a 3.3 per cent drop in revenue to €50.9 billion.
Vivendi has appointed its head of telecommunications, Jean-Yves Charlier, as the CEO of SFR in a move that strengthens the leadership of the French operator ahead of a possible initial public offering.
The mobile price war in France continues to have its winners and losers, with both Vivendi and Bouygues Telecom reporting worsening profits in the first quarter as Iliad boasted that its mobile revenue tripled in the same period.
France Telecom this week clearly spelled out its hopes for LTE as the operator reported a drop in revenue in the first quarter and described as 'ferocious' the ongoing price war in France's mobile market. Will LTE bring everything that Europe's operators are hoping, however? EE's first quarter suggests it's far from an easy ride, while one report also doubts that LTE will restore pricing power in Europe. Moving to LTE may be a 'no brainer,' but as is always the case in mobile, creating value and service differentiation to drive up revenue will be hard to do.
The cost of building Free Mobile's mobile network ate into Iliad's net profit in 2012, although the French fixed and mobile operator said it was still in the black and achieved an almost 50 percent increase in sales to €3.15 billion last year, with over €840 million generated by the new mobile unit.
Shares in Bouygues Telecom jumped 3.5 per cent after news broke that the French telecom regulator Arcep gave it the go-ahead to refarm existing 1800 MHz for LTE services starting this October.
French mobile operators will be able to ink network sharing deals after the country's antitrust authority gave its approval on a limited basis. The antitrust authority said it would closely monitor the market to ensure that competition is maintained.
SFR will introduce new mobile tariff plans that will make it "the cheapest in the market," according to CEO Stéphane Roussel. The new plans will see SFR, France's No. 2 operator, reduce the majority of its monthly subscriptions by €10, according to La Tribune.
French construction group Bouygues SA pumped €678 million into its Bouygues Telecom unit, providing much-needed funding for the mobile and fixed operator and increasing its stake to 90.53 per cent from 89.55 per cent.
A possible merger of SFR and Iliad's Free Mobile has reportedly been quashed by the French competition authority, claiming that the market share of the combined company would be too large.