While Arcep has just unveiled the terms of the auction for the frequencies of the 700 MHz band for 4G services taking care to put the four operators on an equal footing, free mobile counting less frequencies than the others, here that the large maneuvers of consolidation between operators are resuming after a busy 2014 year.
But if Numericable-SFR and Bouygues Telecom initiate a merger, with Free Mobile recovering frequencies to balance the market, the deal is no longer the same and the competition of operators hoped for the auction may rather lead to a status quo which the State will hardly withdraw except the minimum price of the 6 lots offered, namely 2.5 billion euros.
The timing of the maneuver by Numericable-SFR and its shareholder Altice is not trivial, nor its price proposal at more than 10 billion euros, note observers. Even Free Mobile would find its way there since part of the Bouygues Telecom network would come back to it in the event of a merger. Why in this configuration fight to obtain a maximum of 700 MHz frequencies and when it is the operator who crucially needs it?
In the end, it is the State that could be the big loser, failing to see the bids on lots climb significantly. He could then put pressure on investment effort in networks so that the economic benefits are rapid and on the job preservation which was already a central theme in 2014 when Numericable and Bouygues Telecom were looking to acquire SFR.