Iliad-Free wins 4th French mobile licence
Pascale Paoli Lebailly
French internet access provider Free, a subsidiary of group Iliad, has been chosen by telecom regulatory body Arcep to become the fourth mobile operator along with Orange, Neuf-SFR and Bouygues Telecom. Made on Friday, the announcement was no surprise to the market as Free was the only group to apply the call for entries after Virgin Mobile and Numericable stepped back.

The new operator will have two years to build its network, launching the first Free Mobile offers at the beginning of 2012. It will then cover 27% of the territory but expects this to rise to 75% in 2015 and 90% in 2018.

Free’s arrival on the French mobile market should bring a new dynamism and lead to more competitive offers for French consumers, as the average mobile price is above that observed in the rest of Europe. According to figures from the French government, Free’s breakthrough should make prices fall some 7%.

Free will receive its licence in January and will then pay the €240 million fee required. With the network development included, the group ‘s investment will amount to €2 billion, according to regulator Arcep.

Helped by a strong client porfolio of 4.4 million households and 10 to 12 million individuals, Free is currently targeting to take between a 10% and a 15% share of the mobile market between 2015 and 2020.

© Rapid TV News 2009