Orange and SFR up in arms at new licence renewal levies

27 Feb 2004

The French finance ministry is at loggerheads with the country’s two biggest cellcos, Orange and SFR, over the terms of renewing the operator’s wireless licences. The state has angered the cellcos by proposing an additional levy of up to 5% on the two operators’ mobile revenues and on their basic licence fees. On top of this the licence fees themselves could yet be tripled from the EUR15-20 million currently paid when the existing 15 year concessions expire at the end of March 2006. Under French law the terms of licence renewals must be agreed two years before they expire, leaving just one month for all parties to reach an agreement. The licence of the country’s third operator, Bouygues Telecom, does not expire until 2009, and the cellco’s management are keeping tabs on the feud from afar.