French telecoms watchdog the Authority of Regulation for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep) has revealed that it received two revised network sharing agreements for consideration, following the publishing of its updated network sharing guidelines, which propose a gradual termination of all roaming agreements in metropolitan France. Arcep said that the amendments relate to the gradual termination of the 2G/3G contract between Free Mobile and Orange, and the 2G/3G/4G network sharing agreement between Bouygues Telecom and Numericable-SFR (SFR). Orange and Free signed an agreement last week to gradually terminate their national 2G/3G roaming deal (inked in 2011) by the end of 2020; under the plan, the phasing out of Free’s roaming over the networks of Orange France is scheduled to start from January 2017. In regards to the Bouygues-SFR deal, Bouygues Telecom disclosed that the sharing of the two operators’ 4G networks is scheduled to end in late 2018, at which date the operator pledged to offer population coverage of between 98% and 99% over its own LTE network.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in January 2016 Arcep opened a public consultation on its draft guidelines on mobile network sharing by proposing a gradual termination of all roaming agreements in metropolitan France. Regarding the Free/Orange deal, the regulator proposed that the termination process should start before the existing contract expires, with 3G roaming between Orange/Free scheduled to end between 2018 and 2020. For 2G (voice, SMS and data) services the termination date should be between 2020 and 2022.