The French telecommunications operator Cegetel, the main challenger to France Telecom, has reported strong subscriber growth and urged the regulator to remove remaining obstacles to fair competition with the former state monopoly. Jean-Marie Messier, chairman of Cegetel and parent group Vivendi, told a conference on telecommunications that Vivendi's 1998 sales would be some FF200 billion (USD33.03 billion) and those of Cegetel FF19 - in line with a May forecast of close to FF20 billion. Messier said SFR, the mobile communications arm of Cegetel, has already topped three million subscribers, and would reach four million in six months. SFR added a net 200,000 subscribers in June, taking the total for the first half to 800,000. Cegetel is majority-owned by Vivendi, the former Generale des Eaux, and counts British Telecommunications Plc, Mannesmann AG and SBC Communications Inc among its shareholders. Generale des Eaux had 1997 sales of FF167.1 billion. While Cegetel has been operating SFR for several years, it started its "7" fixed-line business only in...

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