Rumour Mill: SFR, Bouygues Telecom mull network sharing deal

SFR and Bouygues Telecom have held talks focused upon a network sharing agreement, according to a report in the French publication Journal du Dimanche.

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources close to the two operators, SFR and Bouygues Telecom are keen to conclude a deal that would see them sharing network infrastructure in rural areas in an effort to reduce operating expenses by about 10 per cent. The savings are meant to make up for a similar drop in revenue, the report said. The talks, which the report said have been ongoing for several weeks says, were triggered by the ongoing price war scene since the launch of Iliad's low-cost Free Mobile brand three months ago.

However, discussions are said to be on hold at present whilst the two operators hold separate informal talks with TDF, the French TV broadcaster, which has 7,000 transmission masts mainly located in rural areas.

One suggestion being put forward is that TDF could sign separate agreements with SFR and Bouygues Telecom thereby forming a loose alliance between the two mobile operators. Both firms have denied this speculation.

"The trend in Europe is towards sharing networks,"  Nicolas Teisseyre, a consultant with Roland Berger, told Journal du Dimanche. "Everyone recognises this and is already the case for fibre optics and high speed broadband."

For more:
- see this Le JDD article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Les Echoes article (sub. req.) (translated via Google Translate)
- see this L'Expansion article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this TelecomPaper article (sub. req.)

Related Articles:
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Vivendi takes knife to SFR projects, plans new strategy
SFR may slash up to 500 jobs to compensate for Free Mobile's impact on earnings
Arcep: French operators could cut 10,000 jobs due to rising competition
Free Mobile's network suffers from overload at evening peak times

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