France Tel subs contracts probed

France’s competition commission is probing whether France Telecom’s quad-play bundles are fair, because the incumbent locks subscribers into two year contracts.
 
The Autorite de la Concurrence revealed it has begun investigating if the incumbent’s contracts distort the market by preventing customers signing up for rival services from SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
 
A spokeswoman said the probe was at a very early stage, so no formal action is being considered yet, WSJ.com reported.
 
France Telecom told the Journal it was “serene” over what it sees as “an administrative procedure,” designed to keep the competition board in the loop over new market developments.
 
However, if the investigation does go further, it could result in changes to France Telecom’s subscriber contracts – either voluntarily or forcibly, Reuters noted.
 
The authority only cleared France Telecom to offer bundled services in June, and the telco launched services in August.
 
But consumer groups and rival carriers have widely criticized the contract terms, with a source at one operator saying the firm was dead in the water if France Telecom ties customers in for so long, Reuters said.
 
Despite the divisions over contract terms, carriers united in August to condemn government plans to hike the tax levied on triple-play services, to bring the country into line with European Union rules.

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