Posts filed under ‘SFR’
French communications and entertainment group Vivendi reported a 23.7% year-on-year rise in consolidated revenues (22.1% at constant currency) to EUR6.5 billion (USD8.83 billion), as a result of strong performance from the likes of telecoms arm SFR and expected synergies delivered following recent acquisitions. Group EBITDA reached EUR1.4 billion, an increase of 15.8% (13.8% at constant currency) compared to the first quarter of 2008. Vivendi said adjusted net income was EUR649 million, down EUR48 million compared to the first quarter of 2008, mainly due to the increasing interest and share of earnings attributable to minority interests. Nonetheless, the company confirmed its 2009 outlook for strong growth of EBITA.
SFR’s revenues increased to EUR3.028 billion in the three months ended 31 March 2009, up by 31.5% compared to the same period in 2008, due to the consolidation of neuf Cegetel since 15 April 2008. On a comparable basis, SFR’s revenues decreased by 0.8% y-o-y, although excluding the impact of the decrease in switched voice revenues and equipment sales, SFR revenues increased by 1.4%, it said. Mobile turnover generated EUR2.181 billion in sales which Vivendi said was ‘stable’ due to a EUR22 million decrease in equipment sales to EUR77 million. Mobile service revenues, however, rose 1.2% year-on-year to EUR2.104 billion, driven by growth of the customer base and a sharp (36%) rise in data revenues following the launch of unlimited SMS and MMS offers, and strong development of mobile internet services in the mass market and enterprise segments. SFR added 118,000 net new mobile customers in January-March, equivalent to 51% of net additions in the period. Furthermore, SFR reported an improvement in its customer mix (+3.5 percentage points year-on-year to 69.6%), adding 178,000 new post-paid customers in the period to achieve 13.76 million contract customers at the end of March 2009. SFR launched the iPhone on 8 April, and says it has already sold 120,000 handsets.
SFR (including neuf Cegetel) reported broadband internet and fixed revenues of EUR934 million in 1Q09, down 2.7% compared to the same period in 2008 on a comparable basis. Broadband internet and fixed revenues increased by 2.3%, excluding the impact of the decrease in switched voice revenues. Aided by the launch of the ‘neufbox by SFR’, SFR added 163,000 net new broadband internet active customers in the period (or >30% of all quarterly net additions). At the end of March 2009 SFR’s broadband subscriber base totalled 4.042 million, up 9.3% compared to the same period in 2008. In addition, SFR had 164,000 Enterprise data links connected to the SFR network, 10.1% higher than a year earlier. SFR’s broadband internet and fixed EBITDA, including neuf Cegetel’s operations since 15 April 2008, decreased by EUR19 million on a comparable basis to EUR133 million.
Six operators will launch mobile phones based on the LiMo operating system this year, announced the LiMo Foundation, an industry group promoting Linux software for mobile services. The operators planning LiMo devices include NTT Docomo, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone. Further active operator participants in the LiMo Foundation include KTF, SFR, Softbank Mobile, Swisscom and Telecom Italia. To date 33 commercial handset models have been certified as LiMo Compliant, of which 10 will be on display at the Mobile World Congress by NEC and Panasonic. LG and Samsung will also show new prototype models at MWC in Barcelona.
The LiMo Foundation also announced that all technologies specified for the R2 release of the LiMo Platform have been contributed on time, and LiMo members are currently introducing reference implementations for devices. The LiMo Reference Implementations will include code specified within both LiMo Platform R1 and LiMo Platform R2. This code includes source code contributions from members as well as components originating from open source communities. LiMo Reference Implementation contributors include Access, Azingo, LG Electronics, Purple Labs and Samsung Electronics. The latest technologies in the LiMo Platform include support for features such as advanced multimedia, location-based services, device management and enhanced security. The LiMo Foundation also announced its endorsement of the OMTP Bondi specification, which future LiMo handsets using a web runtime will support for widgets.
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.
Alcatel-Lucent has successfully deployed a 3G+ network for the mobile operator Societe Reunionnaise de Radiotelephone (SRR). In a statement, Alca-Lu said the initial roll out of the UMTS/HSPA network was made in 2008 mostly covering Reunion’s Saint-Denis commune and in the island’s main towns. The vendor has installed its UMTS Radio Access Network (UTRAN) and mobile NGN (Next Generation Network) core network solutions allowing SRR to expand and improve its portfolio of voice and high speed data services. ‘We are extremely proud to be the first to deploy an Alcatel-Lucent 3G network in Reunion; with it we will be able for the first time to offer our customers new high speed user-centric services, thanks to Alcatel-Lucent’s unrivalled UMTS radio access solution’, said Pierre-Antoine Legagneur, SRR’s network technical director.
SRR, trades under the brand name SFR Reunion, is the largest mobile telecoms provider in the French overseas departments of Mayotte and Reunion. Operational since 1995, SRR currently commands a more than 65% market share with about 650,000 customers. SRR Reunion’s network covers more than 99% of the population.
In June 2008 the French telecoms regulator Arcep awarded 3G spectrum licences for the French overseas departments and territories. SRR, Orange and Outremer Telecom were each awarded spectrum in the 2100MHz band in La Reunion, while Orange and Outremer Telecom were awarded spectrum for the French Antilles and Guyana. 3G services were expected to be introduced by the end of the year, and licensees are obliged to provide 70% population coverage by 2013.
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.