SFR speeds 4G rollout as end to Bouygues roaming deal looms

SFR revealed further progress in the rollout of its LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks as the France-based operator readies itself for the end of a 4G-network sharing and roaming agreement with Bouygues Telecom.

The two operators have already agreed that Altice-owned SFR would stop roaming on Bouygues Telecom's 4G network by the end of 2018.

SFR and Bouygues Telecom operate a network-sharing arrangement for 2G, 3G and 4G as well as the national 4G roaming deal. However, French telecoms regulator Arcep said in January that it wanted to see "a specific end date" to the 4G portion of the deal "because investments in 4G infrastructure are crucial to the market's vitality."

Bouygues Telecom has said it expects to cover between 98 per cent and 99 per cent of the population with its 4G network by the time the SFR agreement ends.

SFR also faces the task of improving its 4G and LTE-A network coverage, and is now activating 4G sites at a faster rate than rival operators.

Earlier in July, ANFR, the agency responsible for managing and monitoring mobile frequencies in France, said SFR now had 6,828 sites authorised for 4G after adding 533 sites in June. The operator is now in third place behind Orange (8,988 sites; +147 in June) and Bouygues Telecom (8,346 sites; +297 in June) and ahead of Free Mobile (6,571 sites; +157 in June).

SFR also activated the greatest number of new 4G sites in the second quarter of 2016, with 1,256 new sites.

Michel Combes, chairman and CEO of SFR Group highlighted the considerable investments that SFR is now making in its 4G and fibre networks.

"This month, especially, SFR has hit a new record and, for the third consecutive quarter, has confirmed its position as leader with regard to commissioning new 4G sites," he said.

In June, SFR brought its 4G services to 413 new municipalities, while 13 more municipalities gained access to the higher-speed LTE-A services. Furthermore, three-band carrier aggregation (3CA) has also been launched in Clermont-Ferrand, adding to Brest and the 10 stadiums of the Euro 2016 football championship.

For more:
- see the ANFR release
- see the SFR release

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