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France’s regulator warns that convergence harms investment

The head of the French telecoms regulator has warned that the growing trend for mobile operators to offer bundles of telecoms and TV services across Europe risks harming investment in their networks, reports the Financial Times. “If telecoms operators are massively investing in content… there’s a high risk that this deters investment in telecom networks in France,” Sébastien Soriano, chairman of Arcep, said. “I would prefer to hear them with a clearer message of investing in fibre, in 4G, in 5G, than this kind of permanent discussion about content.” Soriano’s comments come as the country’s four telecoms operators – Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Iliad – weigh up the benefits of owning and creating TV content, including exclusive sports rights, that can be broadcast over their broadband and mobile networks. These operators have been locked in a price war since 2012, when Xavier Niel’s Iliad launched its mobile service, Free. Content is seen as a potential means to differentiate from competitors, improve average revenue per user and reduce the churn rate although the cost of doing so can be expensive. “A really bad scenario for us would be a scenario where two players would be engaged in media differentiation strategies. Then there’s a high risk that the market goes to a duopoly, which for us is terrible. Duopolies are very hard to regulate,” said Soriano, who added that Arcep is largely powerless to prevent convergence, and that if the trend developed, a new regulatory framework might be needed. He said: “My main concern is that we don’t go further on this telecoms media story. For the moment there are no big problems – but please could we just stay at this point.” Read more

  • Wednesday, 22 February 2017

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