Feeds

Rival French mobe firms sue Orange and Vivendi's SFR for €1.4bn

Bouygues et amis demand payout after free call fracas

Website security in corporate America

Dominant French mobile operators Orange and SFR have been hit with a compensation claim from their diminutive rivals after a court ruled their offer of free calls was anti-competitive.

Between 2005 and 2008 Orange and SFR offered customers free calls within the same network, forcing third-position operator Bouygues to offer loss-leading deals, as the two dominant players own 85 per cent of the French mobile market.

Last December, the courts ruled the free calls were anti-competitive and fined the companies €183m (£159m, $243m), paving the way for this compensation claim.

The claim is detailed, in French, by news website L'Express and we're grateful to Rude Baguette for the translation.

Bouygues has been joined by various French MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) in the claim, and is asking for €790m (£684m, $1bn) from Orange and €650 (£563, $863m) from SFR to make up for the cost of lost customers and loss-leading deals.

Notably absent from the action is Free, which only launched 20 months ago and thus can't claim to have been damaged by tariffs which were withdrawn in 2008.

One might argue that Orange and SFR should be allowed to offer free calls within their own networks. Yet questions about monopoly abuse of this type have come up several times before and courts have generally ruled that a monopoly can exist even if it only applies to customers of a specific carrier. For example, Orange has monopoly access to Orange customers, even if that monopoly extends no further.

That's how the French court ruled in December, fining both Orange and SFR as well as releasing customers from their contracted agreements. With more than a billion euros on the table, the companies are unlikely to concede quickly and this litigation should run and run. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.