MVNOs take off in France

According to the French NRA, the ARCEP, the country reached a 82% penetration rate end of Q1 2007 with a total of 52M active accounts, including overseas regions and territories.
This base grew by 7% over the last 12 months : 4% for MNOs, and a solid 302% for M-VNOs, whose market share eventually took off from .91 to 3.42%. During Q1 2007, they even snatched 11.5% of net sales for prepaid and 15.8% for postpaid.
The percentage of users of multimedia services remained stable at 29%, and the number of SMS by active users at around 30 per month. But ARPU didn't nose dive (EUR 36.4 / month, -6%) because voice remained strong : traffic gained 14% and call termination wholesale cuts didn't kill the golden goose. But Viviane Reding's roaming wars haven't started yet. And French M-VNOs are not voice killers. Yet.
Even price-centric M-VNOs (ie Tele2 Mobile, over 350k subs) or mass retailers (Auchan Telecom, Carrefour mobile) can't go far. Data-centric Ten or M-VNOs with an ethnic / geographic focus (MobiSud, Breitz Mobile) won't bring the whole house down. Nor will such players as Coriolis or Transatel. "Entertainers" NRJ Mobile and Virgin Mobile play the card of rates a more subtle way, offering more for the same price. Both are enjoying a good position on the market (over 300k subs), the latter contributing to the success story of Omer Telecom, the Phone House / Carphone Warehouse VNO behind Breizh Mobile and the Virgin Mobile JV.
But triple- / quadplayers hold the best entry points as mobile voice rates start converging with landline ones, as mobile and landline start making one. neuf cegetel started ahead of Free Iliad, but Orange and SFR, now also an ISP, won't let their market share shrink that easily. The timing seems definitely interesting for the sale of Bouygues Telecom*.

* see "Bouygues not for sale ? How about TF1 ?" (20070509)

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