The disruptive French operator Free Mobile has attracted at least 2.2 million subscribers since it launched in early January, according to a claim from claims Bouygues Telecom CEO Olivier Roussat.
Roussat told the French newspaper La Tribune that Free Mobile had been a "great commercial success," but insisted that activity within its own number portability system was now "completely back to normal" after becoming overloaded with requests following the launch of Free Mobile's network in January.
While Free Mobile has not revealed customer numbers, Bouygues Telecom made the estimation of 2.2 million subscribers based on the number of Free Mobile SIMs detected at least once on the Bouygues Telecom network.
However, according to Les Echos, Orange and SFR believe many Free Mobile subscribers appear to be passive users only appearing on their networks around once per week. This has triggered speculation that Free's low-cost pricing has persuaded French consumers to sign-up to the service as little more than a backup.
Of note, Bouygues Telecom believes that the recent network breakdowns at Free have prompted discontent customers to return to their previous service providers. After last week's blackout, Bouygues Telecom said that it received 4,000 incoming number portability requests from Free Mobile customers.
The company added that its B&You low-cost brand is now adding 100,000 net customers a month, with 49 per cent of these new additions coming from Free Mobile.
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