France’s SFR to maintain capex at 1.5-1.6 billion euros in 2013

French mobile-phone operator plans to maintain capital expenditure at a 2012 level of between €1.5 billion and €1.6 billion this year, according to a report in France’s Les Echos newspaper.

The operator reportedly plans to increase spending on mobile networks while reducing investments elsewhere.

Much of the capital expenditure is likely to go towards expanding the reach of SFR’s LTE networks, following the launch of commercial LTE services last November.

French mobile-phone operator plans to maintain capital expenditure at a 2012 level of between €1.5 billion and €1.6 billion this year, according to a report in France’s Les Echos newspaper.

The operator reportedly plans to increase spending on mobile networks while reducing investments elsewhere.

Much of the capital expenditure is likely to go towards expanding the reach of SFR’s LTE networks, following the launch of commercial LTE services last November.

Along with France Telecom (Paris, France) and Bouygues (Paris, France), SFR (Paris, France) has been under attack from Free (Paris, France), a new entrant to France’s mobile-phone market that began a price war when it launched commercial services early last year.

SFR reported a 10.3% decrease in mobile revenues, to €5.7 billion, for the first nine months of 2012, compared with the same period of 2011, although regulated price cuts were held responsible for some of the decline.

Pierre-Alain Allemand, the head of networks and information systems, is quoted by Les Echos as saying that SFR has no choice but to invest as it faces two major technology shifts – those of LTE and fibre-optics.

In the broadband market, SFR faces tough competition from France’s other fixed-line operators – including Free owner Iliad (Paris, France) – which are racing to sign customers up to superfast services.

SFR’s future has looked increasingly uncertain since parent company Vivendi (Paris, France), the French conglomerate, began a strategic review of its operations with a view to selling off telecoms assets and focusing more heavily on its core media business.

Vivendi is currently in the process of selling telecoms subsidiaries in Morocco and Brazil.

Last week, Reuters reported that Vivendi and Iliad had been in touch with French competition authorities regarding a possible merger between SFR and Free.

The French regulator was said to be opposed to such a tie-up, which would create a business with about 30 million customers, making it bigger than current market leader France Telecom.