Bouygues Telecom and Cellnex form joint venture for fibre in France

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French operator Bouygues Telecom and wireless infrastructure operator Cellnex are to deploy a national fibre-optic network in France to accelerate the roll-out of 5G.

The companies will become partners of a newly incorporated company, with Cellnex owning 51% and Bouygues Telecom 49%.

They plan to invest €1 billion up to 2027 to deploy a fibre network of up to 31,500 km, connecting rooftop infrastructure and towers with edge computing data processing centres.

In December 2018, the companies forged an agreement for Cellnex to build up to 88 strategic telecommunications centres, also known as “central offices” and “metropolitan offices”, over five years to house data. The JV agreement covers the roll-out of up to 90 new “metropolitan offices” up to 2027.

Great opportunities

Jean Paul Arzel, Network Director, Bouygues Télécom, said the new partnership would “bring great opportunities to enhance the capacity of our fixed and mobile network through a high-performance optical fibre infrastructure, and support and accelerate our 5G roll-out.”

He added that it would also support the development of new services for B2B customers.

Cellnex CEO Tobias Martinez said, “The agreement to roll out a genuine fibre ring in France interconnecting various key elements for the fixed and mobile ecosystem…represents our commitment to a holistic cooperation model with our key customers to facilitate planning and efficient operation of the telecoms infrastructures networks.”

Once the fibre network and the “metropolitan offices” are fully deployed, the EBITDA generated by the new company is expected to stand at €80 million. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

• The French regulator, Arcep, announced that Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR have bid for 5G telecoms spectrum. It said in a statement, “All four candidates have stipulated their desire to obtain one of the four blocks of 50MHz that will be awarded in exchange for the commitments set forth in the procedure".

The regulator added it was hoping to award the 5G licences by June. Last November, a government minister said that Frances’s 5G spectrum would be sold at a floor price of €2.17 billion.