French court rules in favour of Bouygues on 4G licence fees

5 Jan 2015

France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, has ruled in favour of Bouygues Telecom in its appeal against the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) in regards to the annual licence fees the telecoms regulator charges for refarmed spectrum in the 1800MHz band.

TeleGeography notes that in March 2013 Arcep authorised Bouygues to recycle its 2G mobile spectrum in the aforementioned band for 4G mobile data use on the condition that the tariffs payable for utilising the frequencies are amended. With its Decree No. 2013-238 of 22 March 2013, the regulator increased the annual levy from EUR571 (USD687) per 1kHz of spectrum to EUR3,231.

Bouygues Telecom subsequently appealed against the way the tariff was calculated however and on 29 December 2014 the Conseil d’Etat annulled the March 2013 decree; the court said in a press release that fees could still be charged ‘on the condition that they are not set at a clearly disproportionate level’. The telecoms regulator is now likely to revise the spectrum charges, which could lead to Bouygues paying less than the EUR70 million it previously earmarked for the licence tariff.

France, Arcep, Bouygues Telecom