SFR CEO: Mobile pricing nears danger level; but goes ahead with price cuts

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.


This announcement came shortly after Roussel warned that mobile prices in France "have fallen too low" and were in danger of triggering further job cuts and lower investment levels. Iliad's Free Mobile shook up the industry last year with its low-cost plans and charges €19.99 per month for unlimited voice, messaging and 3 GB of data.

In an interview with Le Parisien, Roussel forecast that the next 12 to 18 months would continue to be difficult for the French mobile industry.

Roussel also took the opportunity to dismiss rumours that Vivendi-owned SFR is going to be part of any operator consolidation: "SFR is not for sale, and never has been," he said. However, Vivendi CEO Jean-François Dubos has indicated that network sharing is an option for SFR.

Separately, the SFR CEO claims that a move by the French telecom regulator Arcep to provide rival Bouygues Telecom with a competitive advantage on LTE spectrum could threaten thousands of jobs within the company.

Roussel told Le Figaro that Bouygues Telecom's request to reuse its 1800 MHz 2G band for LTE would allow the operator to deploy high-speed data services much quicker than SFR.

Roussel maintains that if Arcep approves Bouygues Telecom's plan this year to reuse its 1800 MHz band, then 5,000 workers would lose their jobs. The impact would be on call centres, retail outlets and subcontractors, said Roussel, adding that it would be an "absolute scandal" if Arcep provided a rival with special permission to launch LTE ahead of others. If Arcep decided in Bouygues Telecom's favour, the CEO said he would take legal action requesting compensation.

SFR became the first French operator to launch commercial LTE services to consumers in late November 2012, and said its LTE network would reach 10 towns and villages by the end of 2013. Currently, service is available only in Lyon and Montpellier.

For more:
- see this La Tribune article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Le Figaro article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article

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