France's SFR latest to offer low-cost LTE prices

As of Tuesday this week, all four French operators will be including LTE in their low-cost mobile tariffs after SFR formally adds the high-speed service to its low-cost RED plans for €25.99 ($35.50) a month with unlimited access to YouTube and 5 GB of data.

Orange added LTE to its low-cost Sosh plans last week: Sosh subscribers to a €24.99 plan are now able to get LTE with 5 GB of inclusive data. Bouygues Telecom also previously extended LTE to its low-cost B&YOU plans that currently cost €19.99 and €24.99 a month for 3 GB and 5 GB of data, respectively.

All three operators already offered more expensive LTE tariffs, but were forced to add LTE to their low-cost brands after Iliad-owned Free Mobile's announcement that it had added LTE to its €19.99/€15.99 and €2 mobile plans early in December 2013.

Orange also announced last week that it reached the one million mark for LTE subscribers by the end of 2013. The company said it currently has 5,126 LTE masts in operation, covering 50 per cent of France on Jan. 1, 2014, and offers the highest theoretical maximum speed of 150 Mbps.

Bouygues Telecom and SFR also confirmed they had reached a million LTE users. SFR states it now covers more than 40 per cent of the population - or 1,200 cities and towns - with LTE as of Dec. 31, 2013. Including its dual carrier HSPA network, coverage was 70 per cent.

According to France's spectrum watchdog ANFR (Agence Nationale des Frequences), 12,525 sites were authorised for LTE as of Jan. 1, 2014 – an increase of 3.8 per cent since the start of December 2013. The agency said 4,458 masts applied to Orange, 1,961 to SFR and 6,655 to Bouygues. Free Mobile has 1,501 masts that support LTE and 824 in service, the agency said.

Meanwhile in other Anglo-French-related LTE news this week, EE said it will provide LTE coverage in the Channel Tunnel from summer 2014, after it and Vodafone each signed a ten-year agreement with Eurotunnel. EE also said 2G and 3G services are also set to go live in the North Running Tunnel (UK to France) in March 2014.

Eurotunnel noted that customers of both operators will first have access to 2G and 3G services in the North Tunnel, with LTE services set to come at a later date.

Eurotunnel already has equivalent agreements with Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR, which installed GSM-P services in the South Running Tunnel in 2012.

For more:
- see this Orange release
- see this SFR release
- see this Eurotunnel release
- see this Reuters article

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