Free Mobile gets France's 4th 3G license, will offer VoIP

mot-bile 2009 - French regulator ARCEP gave the final nod to Illiad's 100% (for the moment - see previous episodes including "Free: alea jacta est") subsidiary. Free Mobile gave all the guarantees needed and pledged to offer all web services on the mobile, including VoIP.

Also to be noted : total transparency for the cost of mobiles. Consumers will know when they pay for the devices or for the traffic... greenfield Free found a smart way of disturbing the local operators / manufacturers cuisine.

Overall, Free gets 382 points out of 500 : 55/65 for commercial offers, 64/100 for coverage, 20/25 for QoS, 54/60 for relationships with service providers, 22/25 for customer relationships, 22/25 for environment, 22/25 for employment, 56/75 for business plan consistency and credibility, 72/100 for project constistency and credibility.

In a nutshell :
. TTM / commercial launch : 2 years from now.
. coverage : just above the levels required for 3G (voice : 27% at launch instead of 25%, 75% after 5 years, 90% after 8 years instead of 90%), and a contribution to the common effort for 2G coverage of remote areas
. staff : from 1,000 (EOY 2012) to 5,000 (EOY 2018)
. M-VNOs : Free Mobile will accept up to 4 full m-vnos
. devices : offers without terminals, payment of terminals over few months
. voice : an access package including 3 hours of intraeuropean calls for less than 20 euros
. data : all offers include mobile internet access
. customer services : customers can contact for free consumer associations when they want to post a complaint ! The best way to relieve Free's hotlines and to get rid of the said associations !!!

Of course, Free Mobile's capital is as expected very likely to be raised to finance both 3G and FTTH, and that's been clearly specified in the proposal.

Next steps for the ARCEP ? Attributing the remaining blocks of frequencies : 5 and 4.8MHz in the 2.1GHz band (H1 2010 - open to any player), and the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands for 4G (H2 2010).

L'ARCEP retient la candidature de Free Mobile" (20091218) + slides presented during today's Press conference

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