Massive investments, a lot of constraints and stagnant income. This is the economic situation in which the telecommunications market has been frozen in France for several years. The country’s operators have invested more than 11.5 billion euros in their networks in 2020, an amount unprecedented since 2011, according to the results of a study published by the French Telecoms Federation (FFT) on Tuesday, December 14. Despite this, the sector’s turnover only grew by around 5% over the decade.
In this context, the idea of increasing the prices of packages is gaining ground. Competition between Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free has pulled prices down, far from the standards of most major European countries. Whereas a basic Internet, television and fixed-line telephony offer can cost 22 euros per month in France, comparable offers cost around 35 euros in the United Kingdom, 45 euros in Germany and up to 108 euros in the United States. United, according to the FFT. The dynamics are the same on mobile plans.
The rapid deployment of optical fiber has already put an end to the downward trend in prices on fixed subscriptions. On average, it increased by 6.2% in France in July 2021 compared to the previous year, according to INSEE. Mobile plans were still on the decline (-1.7%), but for how long?
“A market without growth”
“The French must pay the right price for an exceptional service offered to them, believes Arthur Dreyfuss, president of the FFT and also general secretary of SFR. Is it normal that a monthly telecoms subscription costs the same as a pizza, while, at the same time, prices increase throughout the value chain? ” If there is an increase, it will probably be gradual, with competition between operators preventing them from suddenly increasing their prices, at the risk of losing customers.
“The telecoms market has become a market without growth in France. Operators are struggling to increase the average basket of their customers and prices have remained stable ”, confirms Jean-Michel Salvador, financial analyst at AlphaValue. This context is at the origin of the poor performance of stock market operators. Altice and Iliad, the respective parent companies of SFR and Free, have taken note of this, withdrawing from the listing in 2021. It raises more broadly existential questions for operators, who are reduced to the simple role of manager of infrastructure.
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