Free Caraibe, which provides telecom services across the French Antilles, has been fined by French regulator ARCEP (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes) for failing to meet deployment requirements across several of its markets.
In 2017, ARCEP issued Free Caraibe with spectrum holdings in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2.6GHz bands across five French overseas territories: French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy and Saint-Martin.
The allocation obliged Free Caraibe to meet a number of deployment obligations by 22nd November 2018. These included providing mobile and mobile broadband coverage to 50% of the populations of Guadeloupe and Martinique; 30% of the population of French Guiana; and 75% of the populations of Saint Barthelemy and Saint-Martin.
CommsUpdate reports that in December 2020, the regulator determined that Free Caraibe had not met these obligations, and gave it a year to get up to speed. However, the operator again missed this deadline, eventually rolling out commercial services in May 2022.
This tardiness has now incurred Free Caraibe with a EUR300,000 (US$295,415) penalty, with ARCEP accounting for the operator’s investments since the lapse of its initial formal notice.