France’s Competition Authority (Autorite de la Concurrence) has lifted all restrictions imposed on Amsterdam-based Altice Europe (previously Altice Group) in October 2014, when its subsidiary Numericable acquired mobile network SFR. The authority said that it opted not to extend the subscribed commitments for another five years, as it concluded that competition between operators was sufficient, particularly in regard to fibre. Following the lifting of the restrictions, Altice is no longer required to provide access to its network at pre-merger rates.
However, a separate injunction imposed on Altice Europe in March 2017 in relation to the ‘Faber’ co-investment project (inked between SFR and Bouygues Telecom in November 2010, before the former was acquired by Altice and merged with Numericable) remains in place. The Faber deal aimed to increase fibre-optic deployments in 22 densely-populated municipalities, though the Autorite de la Concurrence ruled that following the Numericable-SFR merger, the ‘pace of the connections slowed noticeably … running substantially behind the agreed schedule’, thus negatively affecting Bouygues Telecom. Along with imposing a fine of EUR40 million (USD42.7 million), the competition authority has created a new deployment schedule aiming to ensure Altice carried out its commitments, with periodic penalty payments if it failed to do so.