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* French telco watchdog to review impact of smartphones’renewals

* Gvt to tie environmental criteria to future 5G auction

* Watchdog to collect data on tech impact on environment

By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS, Feb 23 (Reuters) – France is weighing possibleregulation to restrict the early renewal of smartphones viacommercial offers by telecoms operators in a bid to lower theenvironmental impact of connected devices, a government officialsaid on Tuesday.

French telecoms operators Orange, BouyguesTelecoms and Altice Europe’s SFR have for years beenluring new customers by providing brand new smartphones inexchange for contractual commitments for a certain period oftime, up to two years.

These commercial offers entice customers to upgrade theirsmartphones while their previous one is still working, theFrench government says in a roadmap on “tech and environment”issued on Tuesday.

“We’re ready to adopt new measures,” the government officialsaid, without elaborating. “The aim is clearly to increase thelife of terminals,” the official added, referring tosmartphones.

The official said that the government will first ask theFrench telecoms authority Arcep to review the telecomsoperators’ contract offers to determine if and how they mightaccelerate the change of smartphones.

“We’re not commissioning this review to waste time, it’sclearly to have the means to make a decision,” the officialsaid.

The French government estimates that 75% of the negativeimpact on the environment due to the digital sector stems fromthe making of devices. This includes CO2 emissions and theconsumption of water and other natural resources.The French government is also asking Arcep to review whichenvironmental criteria could be tied to the allocation of futuremobile frequencies in the 26 GHz band, the next crucialdevelopment in the ramp-up of the new generation of mobileinternet, or 5G.

It will also ask the watchdog to define and collect a newset of data to assess the environmental impact of telecomsoperators as well as “major digital players” on the environment,it said.

(Reporting by Mathieu RosemainEditing by Chizu Nomiyama)



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