At the end of last year, Bouygues Telecom announced they would request permission from ARCEP to transform their old 2G network into a 4G Network which would be notably compatible with the iPhone 5. Over the past two months, ARCEP has listened to the other three operators – SFR, Orange, and Free – as they give their petty excuses in an attempt to clock-block Bouygues until they themselves are able to get a 4G network up; however, this week BFM has reported that the ARCEP will rule in favor of Bouygues transforming its 2G network into a 4G network. The process, which has never been permitted before due to regulation, is significantly less expensive, as it does not require changing out antennas, just the base stations.
Bouygues may be rejoicing, as it is the only operator who is financially in a position to have an 1800Mhz 4G network this year; however, the small print may have ruined the celebration. It is being reported that the the licensing feeds for having a 4G network will cost 6 times as much as the equivalent 2G network, which will to straight into the coffers of the French Government.
Over 10 years, this will amount to 2 Billion euros, roughly 2/3 of the 3 Billion euros that François Hollande declared this week that the government would invest in creating high speed fiber optic internet access across 100% of France, and is also what the 2 Billion euros will be going towards, according to one minister. The catch: Hollande decalred just days ago that the money would not come out of corporation’s pockets. Woops.
Even worse is that this mount, roughly 200 Million euros per year, will likely be passed on to the millions of mobile users in France, similarly to the Google Tax which was shot down after it became apparent that any tax imposed on corporations would just be passed on to users as an ‘unfortunately inevitability.’
While Bouygues has already been permitted to do tests of its converted 4G network, there is definitely going to be a price to pay for French 4G smartphone users if the government gets its way.