5G: Bouygues Telecom’s plan against the state

“Martin gave us carte blanche, and we’re going to the end!” The tone is combative, the will is brazen. This construction group expert, close to Martin Bouygues, has permission to use all possible means to get the state to pay. The next battle will be long, or rather the battles. Because it will be held in thousands of places in the region. In order to comply with the new legislation requested by the government, Bouygues Telecom must uninstall about 3,000 mobile antennas by 2028 at the latest. This text states that in order to “preserve the defense and national security interests of France”, these stations, provided by the Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei, cannot be retained during the transition from 4G to 5G.

Rennes, Brest, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Paris … are affected by this procedure. It remains only to replace the existing fixtures by the Finnish Nokia Group or Swedish Ericsson. What is the reason for this distrust? Shenzhen-based group suspected The United States and its Western allies must pose espionage risksOr even sabotage on new generation networks. This technology is supposed to connect industries, factories, but above all businesses necessary for the proper functioning of a country with its high speed internet. The charges were dismissed collectively by Huawei, the main supplier to Bouygues Telecom (47.5% of the fleet) and SFR (52%) in France.

The State Council paved the way for the appeal

Having been caught up in this geopolitical conflict, Olivier Rosat, the general manager of the construction group, takes revenge. He believes that the government should bear the consequences of changing the rules of the game by putting its hand in its pocket. So far, the leader has met a flat refusal. But now he is ready to deal with the “stick” (that is, all legal and contentious proceedings). Word was passed really badly with Cedric O. The Secretary of State in charge of digital transformation and electronic communications hardly appreciates that a private company would dare threaten public authority. However, Bouygues Telecom and SFR won the first round in front of the State Council. In its April decision, the Foundation opens the way for potential compensation like other countries. Thus, the US has released $1.8 billion to help some operators stop using Huawei, and the UK will create a research and development fund to develop this sector.

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France will only act under duress. So everything depends on the coming judgment. “We have many months ahead of us,” said one stakeholder. Before submitting the invoice, the subsidiary of the BTP Group will first have to determine the cost of these changes to its network. An initial damage estimate has been made: 900 million euros, but it cannot be submitted to court until the new antennas are deployed. This will be done at the end of the year, and all compensation claims will then be grouped site by site together in the appeal to the Paris Administrative Court. For its part, SFR also intends to follow this path. This file should last more than a year and end long after the 2022 presidential election. A poisoned gift for the next government.



Managing Director of Crédit Agricole SA, Philippe Brassac.By Philippe Brassac, CEO of Crédit Agricole SA


Written by Cécile Mizunov, Adviser to the Institute’s Energy and Climate Center and Senior Adviser to the Institut Montaigne


Pierre Assouline, journalist, writer, member of the Académie Goncourt and columnist for L'Express.By Pierre Assoulin


Robin Riffaton, essay writer ("Smile, you are being photographed!", editor.  de l'Observatoire, 2021), Investment Director at Idinvest Partners.Robin Rivaton

Brooke Vargas

"Devoted gamer. Webaholic. Infuriatingly humble social media trailblazer. Lifelong internet expert."

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