PARIS Dec 3 Bouygues Telecom said on
Monday it has been holding discussions with Vivendi's
SFR about sharing their mobile networks outside France's major
France's Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday that the two
operators had recently resumed talks on network-sharing after
having set aside an earlier round of discussions in the spring.
As part of Vivendi's ongoing strategic review, the
media-and-telecom group has been exploring options for SFR,
France's second-largest mobile operator and Vivendi's biggest
Like France Telecom and Bouygues, SFR has been
rocked by a continuing price war touched off by Iliad's
launch of a low-cost mobile service in January.
Vivendi has also held talks since October with local cable
operator Numericable and Iliad over merger options, according to
Without citing any sources, the Journal du Dimanche said on
Sunday that negotiations between Iliad and SFR had cooled
because of antitrust concerns, while SFR-Numericable discussions
had also been set aside.
"After recent press reports on talks between Bouygues
Telecom and SFR, Bouygues notes that the discussions concern
only network-sharing in low-density areas of France," Bouygues
Telecom said in a statement.
France's telecoms regulator has defined "priority deployment
zones" for the rollout of fourth-generation mobile technology.
The zones account for 63 percent of France's territory but are
home to just 18 percent of its population.
Network-sharing deals are becoming increasingly common among
cash-strapped European telecom operators since they reduce
capital expenditures and operating costs while avoiding the
regulatory risk of mergers.
Vodafone and Telefonica signed a deal to share mobile
antennas in Britain, while France Telecom shares networks with
Vodafone in Spain and Deutsche Telekom in some Eastern European
A Vivendi spokesman declined to provide further details on
the type of network-sharing being considered with Bouygues or
other aspects of the newspaper report.
"There have been ongoing conversations between SFR and
Bouygues for a while on network sharing," said the spokesman.
(Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; editing by