Subsidized smartphones: Free demands 1.5 billion euros from Bouygues and Orange


Faced with the smartphone subsidy practices put in place by Orange and Bouygues as part of a subscription to a package with commitment, Free is claiming 1.5 billion euros for its loss.

Free claims 1.5 billion from Orange and Bouygues

For ten years, the operator Free has been standing up against the subsidization of smartphones in exchange for a subscription to a mobile plan with commitment. A fight that Free has already won against SFR before the Court of Cassation. Now, Free attacks its two other competitors Orange and Bouygues and claims 1.5 billion euros in compensation.

Thus, Free, which until then requested the sum of 619 million euros from Bouygues Telecom, revised its bill upwards by now claiming 722 million euros. A large sum that Bouygues refuses to pay, believing that Free had launched a smear campaign and abused its rights. Faced with this, it’s the turn of Bouygues to seek compensation of 1.5 million euros. Orange is not left out since Free claims 790 million euros in compensation.

Controversial smartphone subsidy

To legitimize its request, Free emphasizes that the practice of subsidizing smartphones in exchange for subscribing to a package with commitment, is like a disguised consumer credit, which deprives it of a potential pool of customers. However, in recent years, the practice has become less and less attractive since the package without commitment is more popular and is gradually gaining ground. At the end of 2020, 77.6% of mobile subscriptions were non-binding compared to 20% in 2011.

This practice also poses the problem of ecology. Commissioned by the Secretary of State for Digital Cédric O and by the Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, the President of Arcep, Laure de la Raudière must determine whether this practice encourages the hasty replacement of terminals.