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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Telecom operators obtain a tax cap on fixed Internet networks

For years, telecom operators have criticized the taxation of the sector. In their sights is notably the “flat rate taxation of fixed network companies (Ifer)”, a tax on fixed Internet networks (ADSL and fiber). The bill is, according to them, too steep. In 2021, Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free spent 381 million euros. According to our information, this amount stands at 357 million euros in 2022. It is expected at 358 million euros this year, and at 365 million euros in 2024.

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However, this amount should explode, which haunts operators. Since 2019, the latter have benefited from an exemption from the fixed Ifer for new fiber networks until 2024. The imminent inclusion of fiber networks, which now cover more than 80% of the population, thus promises to significantly increase the bill.

No compensation

According to the daily The echoes, the executive therefore plans to cap the fixed Ifer at 400 million euros from 2024. This measure must still be voted on in Parliament. According to our information, no compensation was requested from the operators. The government, which did not respond to our requests, was undoubtedly responsive to lobbying from the sector. Telecom operators continue to denounce taxes that increase as they deploy networks, in a context where investments are increasingly costly, due to inflation and rising energy costs.

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For these companies, this fixed Ifer capping was imperative, in order to “facilitate fiber deployments and the decommissioning of copper (used for ADSL, editor’s note)”, confides a leader in the sector. No question, however, of bringing out the champagne. Firstly, because this ceiling “is not won, since the project must go through a vote in Parliament”. Second because, according to him, operators will continue “to pay a blind every year”judges this same source. “It’s a cap, not a discount”he adds.

A decision ” surprising » for communities

However, this government decision is already raising eyebrows. Avicca, which represents the communities involved in digital technology, does not appreciate the maneuver. Patrick Chaize, its president, also senator of Ain (LR), describes it as “surprising”. He believes that compensation should have been requested from operators, particularly regarding the deployment of fiber.

Avicca, like Arcep, the sector regulator, deplores that operators have been slowing down their investments in this technology for months. At the current rate, many believe that Emmanuel Macron’s promise to bring fiber to all French people by 2025 will never be kept.