Only a week after Free Mobile announced it had added LTE to its €19.99 ($27.60) mobile plan for no extra charge, the Iliad-owned operator is now including the high-speed service in its €2-a-month plan, while Bouygues Telecom said it is extending LTE to its entire portfolio at no extra charge.
The last thing Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and even Iliad need is to kill the golden goose of LTE. No one in the industry will thank Iliad if LTE suffers due to its rather audacious approach.
Free Mobile's recent announcement that it has added LTE to its mobile tariffs has already persuaded one rival to bring forward plans to include LTE in its low-cost tariffs, while the French government has condemned the Iliad-owned upstart operator for what it clearly considers to be a rash move.
France's three battle-scarred incumbent operators have grabbed onto LTE as something of a lifeline by in part because upstart operator Free Mobile was lagging behind on its next-generation strategy, but now Iliad's Free has added LTE to its mobile subscriptions.
Free Mobile, the Iliad-owned enfant terrible of the French mobile market, has reportedly indicated that it would like to join the network-sharing negotiations currently being carried out by rival operators SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
There was some good news for the European telecoms industry this week, with Vodafone unveiling investment plans and French operators slowing their rates of profit decline, although the latest missive from Moody's reminds us that the industry is still in a fairly fragile. Enter the bold predictions from one analyst company that foresees a wave of M&A sweeping Europe and the world in the coming three years.
Bouygues Telecom and SFR reported slight improvements in their third-quarter results while Iliad registered a slow-down in subscribers to its Free Mobile service, signalling that France's more established mobile operators may finally be regaining their momentum following a price war that has been ravaging France's mobile market since January 2012.
LTE operators beware: consumer groups are watching your moves very closely, and are prepared to pounce if they believe your claims on speed and coverage do not match reality. At least that is the case in France, where consumer watchdog UFC Que Choisir has filed a legal complaint against Orange France and Vivendi-owned SFR over the claims they have been making about their respective LTE services.
Xavier Niel, the billionaire founder of Iliad and the man who almost singlehandedly sparked a price war on France's mobile market by introducing low-cost tariffs under start-up mobile operator Free Mobile, is currently assessing deals for operators across Europe, Bloomberg reported.
Vivendi-owned SFR said it has completed what the operator claims to be the first trials of LTE Advanced technology in France, achieving download speeds of up to 174 Mbps thanks to carrier aggregation of spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands.