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Orange & Free: sharing mobile networks

on Friday, 06 March 2020 Posted in Archives Rezopole

Orange & Free: sharing mobile networks

This partnership between Orange and Free - known as the "passive mutualisation agreement" - will last at least five years and aims to share and build together mobile phone masts in rural areas. In other words, the operators would share masts and their operating costs, but each would graft its own radio equipment onto them. The territories concerned are located in a so-called "priority deployment zone" (or PDZ), i.e. rural territories where mobile coverage is poor or insufficient.


In general, this type of agreement allows operators to significantly lower their costs in order to cover sparsely populated and therefore unprofitable areas. However, the stakes here are a little different for Orange.

Today, any operator wishing to deploy a new tower in the ZDP is faced with a "prior consultation obligation". He must warn his rivals to find out if they are interested in sharing the site. This obligation appeared in January 2018 during the New Deal in order to put an end to the "white" and "grey" zones. But at the time, this provision was unacceptable for Orange, which considered it ruined all these efforts to differentiate the ZDP.


The Arcep then reviewed its copy and proposed that if an operator made an offer to one of its rivals for passive pooling in ZDPs that it considered reasonable, then the obligation of prior consultation could be waived. Orange therefore asked the regulator to lift this obligation. Free made the same request, but only for sites that would be co-constructed with Orange.

For its part, the Arcep has launched a public consultation to gather the sector's opinion on this subject but also concerning a possible removal, for all players, of this obligation.


The question of the pooling of mobile infrastructures has become eminently strategic for operators with the arrival of 5G next summer. SFR and Bouygues Telecom have long shared a large part of their mobile infrastructures in less densely populated areas. A similar agreement between Orange and Free would enable them to be more competitive. This is particularly true for Xavier Niel's operator, which is forced to make greater efforts to improve its national coverage.




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Source : La Tribune





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