8.77 billion euros is the amount of revenue generated by all French telephone operators in the third quarter of last year alone. Down 0.9%, or even more than 1% if we add additional revenues such as call center management. It may seem like small variations but they accumulate and small streams make big rivers. Arcep, the telecoms regulator, talks about nine consecutive quarters of decline.
Whose fault is it ? Fixed is the problem. The market is still not benefiting from the ever-increasing adaptation of optical fiber, which is supposed to be more profitable for operators. Nine in ten customers today choose fiber over ADSL, but bills are stagnating due to competition. For their part, revenues from the mobile telephony market increased slightly (+ 1.2%), thanks in particular to uses such as services and various applications.
Orange, SFR-Altice, Bouygues Telecom and Free have shared the market since 2012 and the shattering arrival of Free with its low prices, which we have seen the consequences on employment. The consumer still wants cheaper but does not see the collateral effects of the reduction of operator margins on the social level: in the space of two years, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have had to cut some 7,000 jobs.
Today, the question arises, indeed, of knowing if alliances can go further to reduce the number of actors. According to studies by merchant banks, going from four to three operators would achieve between 20 and 25 billion euros in synergies. Economies of scale which would be welcome in the face of the costly investments in billions of euros planned for the development of 5G technology, the new generation of ultra fast internet.