According to an insider source, the French antitrust authority raided Orange France’s offices on March 10. Allegedly, the operator’s abuse of power violated antitrust laws.
Orange France is one of the largest telecom operators in France. The French government holds most of the shares.
An insider source told Capital (French media group) that Orange France was raided by Autorité de la concurrence, the French antitrust authority.
On March 10, four locations, including the headquarters, were searched. The search was prompted by two incidents
1. Abuse of power in the Caribbean
Firstly, the organisation is alleged to have favoured itself during the reconstruction of Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin, two French islands in the Caribbean Sea.
In 2017, cyclone Irma damaged the islands’ telecom network. According to Dauphin Telecom, a local operator, Orange France prioritized its own services during the network’s reconstruction.
As mentioned earlier, Orange France is a state-owned company. The operator has a duty to facilitate smaller service providers. Dauphin Telecom’s allegation points to a violation.
2. Orange France fibre
Secondly, Orange France is accused of abuse of power on the fibre optic market. The organisation has a market share of almost 40 percent, including a high-speed fibre optic network. The network is leased to competitors and local authorities.
Orange France is supposed to lease the network to competitors in a fair manner, which ideally creates a fair market. Several competitors claim that Orange has denied access in the past.
In 2020, the competitors formed an interest group: the Alternative Telecom Operators (AOTA). The group sued Orange at the national antitrust authority. The case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
According to Capital, the case has been reopened as of today. The media group claims that the above incidents prompted the French antitrust authority to raid Orange on 10 March.
National antitrust authorities can be authorised to raid offices in the European Union. These raids are known as dawn raids.
Capital asked Dauphin Telecom and AOTA for a response. At the time of writing, the parties have yet to reply. Reuters contacted the French market authority, but has not heard back yet.