Bouygues Telecom and France Telecom will launch trial LTE networks in June in a bid to differentiate themselves from low-cost offers from rival Free Mobile.
Bouygues Telecom says it will reconfigure over 100 of its 3G base stations in Lyon and will invite 300 users to test the system prior to upgrading 5,000 of its 17,000 3G sites to support LTE. Bouygues Telecom CEO Olivier Roussat told Le Monde that this move will provide high-speed data services to 50 per cent of the country's population "ideally by the end of 2012."
Roussat added that the deployment of LTE would be "extremely rapid" with the company looking to differentiate itself through its network.
France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard also revealed its plans with the announcements of LTE trials in Marseille in June using 150 upgraded base stations, followed by four other cities later this year. Richard said commercial services would become available sometime in 2013.
Commenting on the planned trial, Yves Legrand, director of strategy at Bouygues Telecom, told Les Echos that there was a need to provide high bandwidth data services to meet increasing consumption. "The current data consumption of subscribers [in France] is close to 500 MB to 600 MB per month. In countries where LTE is already marketed, operators offer packages of 3 GB, 5 GB or 11 GB per month," Legrand said.
SFR, which is already testing LTE in Marseille, is expected to unveil its deployment plans this week.
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