France Telecom and SFR fined for anti-competition

France’s two leading operators have been hit with a combined fine of €183 million for distorting competition in the mobile phone market.

France Telecom and Vivendi’s SFR have been accused of attempting to tailor tariffs which went against competition, in the aggressive battle to survive in France’s highly competitive mobile market.

Both companies said they would appeal against the ruling delivered by the country’s competition authority, and it relates back to a complaint issued by Bouygues Telecom dating back to the period between 2005 and 2008.

Bouygues claimed both companies introduced phone services which allowed for unlimited calls in the country but only if the consumer in question called another subscriber on the same network.

The competition authority said that they had froze the market by attracting consumers to the two biggest networks, and locking them in once the choice had been made. Bouygues, too, was affected and were forced to launch offers that increased costs.

France Telecom was fined €117 million and SFR made to pay €66 million.

The French mobile market has been at odds ever since Iliad launched a low cost fourth mobile operator called Free Mobile, which was seen as a way to boost competition and reduce pricing. France Telecom, SFR and Bouygues have complained against the move, which has forced the larger operators to cut jobs and scale back network investment plans.

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