Competition regulator to review Numericable’s fibre commitments

13 Oct 2015

France’s Competition Authority (Autorite de la Concurrence) has opened ex-officio proceedings in order to review whether domestic telecoms operator Numericable-SFR has complied with its commitments in relation to a co-investment agreement with Bouygues Telecom for the deployment of fibre-optic infrastructure. In December 2010, SFR and Bouygues Telecom signed an agreement on the horizontal deployment of fibre-optics in certain very densely populated areas of the country; under the terms of the agreement, SFR agreed to deploy a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network on behalf of the two operators, with Bouygues Telecom contributing financially to the operation. Following the November 2014 acquisition of SFR by Numericable’s parent company Altice Group, the new owner committed to maintain the fibre-optic agreements that SFR had reached with other operators prior to the takeover. In regards to the agreement with Bouygues Telecom, Numericable had committed ‘to connect the deployed horizontal network to the vertical network of buildings’ within two years (for the network sharing points that existed before the December 2010 deal) and three months (for the ones installed after). Moreover, Numericable had committed to provide maintenance of the implemented infrastructure under transparent and non-discriminatory conditions. Bouygues Telecom, however, pointed out that the pace of connections achieved by Numericable-SFR experienced a ‘significant slowdown’ since the November 2014 merger, which in turn raised concerns that Numericable could not achieve its objectives within the set deadlines, the regulator said. For its part, Numericable is disputing the delay claims, with Numericable-SFR’s Deputy CEO Jerome Yomtov quoted by Les Echos as saying: ‘We respect the commitments, projects are underway and the production rate is accelerating.’