Posts filed under ‘Bouygues Telecom’
French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom posted a 6% increase in sales for the three months to 31 March 2009 on the back of solid subscriber growth. Sales from network services grew 5% year-on-year to EUR1.175 billion (USD1.603 billion), including a EUR9 million contribution from its fixed line business, it said. Bouygues added a net 144,000 new mobile customers in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 51,000 in the first quarter of 2008. As at 31 March 2009, Bouygues Telecom’s cellular user base totalled 9.739 million, of which 7.348 million were on post-paid contracts — 75.5% of the total customer base — a year-on-year increase of 1.7 percentage points.
The French courts have ruled that Orange France must relinquish its exclusive rights to sell the Apple iPhone in France, upholding an earlier ruling by the country’s anti-competition authorities. On 17 December 2008 the competition watchdog effectively tore up the exclusivity contract when it ordered Orange France and Apple to suspend the deal they brokered which allowed the mobile operator to control the sale of the much-hyped Apple device in the country. The Competition Council’s ruling followed a complaint filed by Bouygues Telecom which argued the exclusivity deal breached local competition laws. A spokesman for Orange has told AFP it would seek to overturn the ruling before France’s high court of appeal, the Cour de Cassation.
The retail chain Carrefour has announced plans to work with a number of French mobile operators to begin trials of Near Field Communications (NFC) m-payments trials in the country by December 2009. Carrefour says the trial will allow customers of Orange, SFR and Bouygues to make secure mobile contactless payments via a version of its MasterCard loyalty card, known as Pass. The mobile payments can be redeemed as mobile coupons and will effectively replace their existing store cards.
The French authorities have opted against awarding the country’s fourth and final 3G mobile licence to a sole bidder, preferring instead to split the blocks of frequency on offer into three lots of 5MHz, with one reserved for a new market entrant. Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced that the government would ring-fence one block of available frequencies when it launches the tender for the licences next month; the radio spectrum is expected to be allocated before the end of the year.
In September 2008 the telecoms regulator Arcep announced plans to re-launch its campaign to issue a fourth and final 3G mobile licence via a new competitive tender process. In 2007 the watchdog tried and failed to auction off the concession when domestic broadband operator Iliad’s sole bid, through its mobile unit Free Mobile, was rejected for failing to meet the financial conditions of the award. In a statement underlining decision no. 2007-0862, adopted in October 2007, the watchdog said ‘the candidature of Free Mobile cannot be retained under the financial conditions currently defined in the law’. As a condition of its bid, Iliad said it believed the success of the fourth mobile operator was dependent on the winner being allowed to make a deferred annual payment of the licence fee instead of an upfront one-off payment of EUR619 million. ‘Iliad believes that a single payment of the rental charge represents a barrier to entering the market,’ the company said.
Although the authorities’ decision to split the frequencies into blocks has greatly increased the likelihood of a new player entering the mobile market, it is unclear how anyone can make great capital from such a small 5MHz allocation. Moreover, with only two blocks open to bidding from the three incumbent operators – Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom – all three firm’s shares dropped following the PM’s announcement. On a more positive note, the news will no doubt be welcome to Iliad which is still keen to enter the domestic mobile market in some form or other.
KPN (Netherlands) has revealed it is launching a no-frills, low-cost MVNO service in France under the brand name Simyo, leasing network capacity from Bouygues Telecom to piggyback the service. Reuters reports that the launch, which continues the group’s cautious approach to expanding beyond its core markets, will take place on Sunday with plans to expand its activities through the coming year. KPN sees growth potential in a pre-paid market it considers underdeveloped and overly expensive. It will target specific demographic groups (eg ethnic minorities) and lower-income groups with an offer promising call costs of EUR0.19 (USD0.25) per minute – which it says undercuts the current average of EUR0.32 per minute.
In a move that France Telecom itself has called a “serious blow,” France’s Competition Council has temporarily suspended the agreement the firm has with Apple that lets its French operator Orange sell the iPhone 3G exclusively. The competition watchdog said the ban, which takes effect on Thursday, is aimed at letting consumers buy the gadget on contract from competing operators SFR and Bouygues Telecom, right in time for the holiday sales season. France Telecom said it would appeal the decision.
So, how angry are France Telecom execs with this decision? In a statement issued today, the global telecoms group had nothing but sharp criticism for the Competition Council whom it accused of making a decision without “in-depth examination,” that would not only “undermine Orange’s efforts to develop high-speed mobile services in France,” but would have a “major impact” on the market, with possible “serious consequences on manufacturers, as well as their subcontractors and software suppliers.” The best, however, was reserved for the number three operator Bouygues Telecom, which initiated the complaint in mid-September.
France Telecom basically accused its smaller rival, which it noted was “most behind” in rolling out its 3G network,” of crying to the Competition Council, rather than “offering genuine competition based on innovative offers.” It also noted that Orange has had the iPhone exclusive deal for a year now, but that it took Bouygues Telecom until now, just before the lucrative holiday sales season to request these “urgent conservative measures.”
The Council said in a statement that France Telecom’s five-year deal with Apple, which locks subscribers into a 12-24 month contract with Orange, adds another obstacle for consumers in a market already suffering from a lack of competition. Any future exclusivity deals would also be limited to three months at a time. As for an appeal, it’s going to take a long time for France Telecom to get the decision reversed, if at all. An “in-depth examination of the agreement” would likely take 12-15 months to complete, a Council spokesperson told Reuters.
Bouygues Telecom said in a statement it hoped to start selling the iPhone as soon as possible, while France’s second largest operator the Vivendi-Vodafone owned SFR, said it has “always been interested” in selling the iPhone, “but not at any price.”
L’iPhone, as its known in France, has been good to France Telecom, which said it has sold 450,000 of the 3G gadgets to date. As for other operators around the world, the iPhone has helped lure subscribers and boost data usage. The council estimated that Orange raked in 220 million euros ($308.2 million) from iPhone 3G sales from its July 18 launch to November 5. As for Apple, the ruling probably won’t be as much of a blow, especially as it has already dropped its exclusivity strategy in favor of selling through multiple operators in other European countries.