SFR holds steady on €1.6B in network investment for 2013

French mobile operator SFR is to maintain its capital expenditures at between €1.5 billion and €1.6 billion in 2013, despite the ongoing price competition sparked by the arrival of Iliad's Free Mobile at the start of 2012.

The Vivendi-owned company will still continue to cut costs, Pierre-Alain Allemand, head of networks and information systems, said in an interview with French daily Les Echos. He added that investments would be weighted more in favour of mobile networks, as the company continues to build its LTE network throughout France, with fibre networks the other key focus.

"Of course, we will continue to reduce our costs and increase our operational efficiency," Allemand said. "But we have no choice but to invest when faced with two major technology breakthroughs: 4G mobile and fibre-optic [networks]."

LTE services are a key focus for SFR, which like rival operators Bouygues Telecom and France Telecom Orange acquired licences in both the 2.6 GHz and 800 MHz spectrum bands in 2011; Free Mobile only gained licences in the 2.6 GHz band. 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.

A possible merger between Free Mobile and SFR has reportedly been quashed by the French competition authority, claiming that the market share of the combined company would be too large.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Total Telecom article
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)

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