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French watchdog releases Altice from key restrictions

France’s competition watchdog, the Autorité de la Concurrence, has released service provider Altice from a number of conditions imposed on its at the time of its acquisition of SFR and its combination with the former Numericable cable network.

Recognising that rivals including Orange have deployed fibre networks in key parts of the country since the regulations were imposed, the regulator said that it is not necessary to renew obligations on access to the cable network.

It also released Altice from some obligations related to a commercial deal with the French postal service whereby Altice was forbidden from offering cable service in post offices. The postal service has since launched its own white label offering provided via the Altice network.

The regulator has however maintained some restrictions related to a contract between SFR and Bouygues Telecom to co-deploy fibre. The regulator had been concerned that that Altice would not push fibre in major centres  to privilege its cable network. Altice received a fine of €40 million for failing to honour obligations in the case of this contract in 2017.

The regulator lifted restrictions in some cases but reimposed those related to housing that should have been fibred before 2017, with a review to be undertaking in the first half of next year.