Friday, 18 December 2009

France finally awards 3G licence to...Free

DSL service provider Iliad has finally been allocated France's fourth 3G licence. As the only applicant for the licence it was a fait accompli that they'd get it, but it's nice to finally get confirmation. Free Mobile (as the new operator will be known) will get the license in January 2010.

The implications? A shake up of a pretty stagnant mobile market and a particular focus on mobile broadband. They are a very strong #2 fixed broadband player (19% market share) behind incumbent France Telecom and they have a real opportunity to cross-sell mobile broadband services. This is particularly true given the established network of shared WiFi hotspots that Iliad has. There are 3 million households with Freeboxes which provide both private and public WiFi access, so Free Mobile effectively already has 3 million basestations. How they exploit this advantage will be the determining factor for how successful Free Mobile will be.

SFR has recent made such a move targeting their NeufWiFi subscribers. For analysis of that see here.

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