Free Mobile blocked from French 3G network-sharing talks

Having acquired the fourth French 3G licence last year, Free Mobile is being excluded from networking-sharing talks underway between the three incumbents.

The company, which displeased Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom by its low-cost purchase of the 3G licence, had outlined plans to launch its service sometime next year. However, this is now in doubt as the three existing operators resist Free Mobile's requests to negotiate the use of their 3G networks.

According to SFR CEO, Frank Esser, discussions underway between the three existing service providers were centred currently on 2G roaming only, as the law required.

This roadblock could seriously delay Free Mobile's initial plans to launch a 3G-based service given that it will be 2015 before its own network is commissioned.

A report carried by the French newspaper Les Echos said that the regulator might be forced to step in, or Iliad, Free Mobile's owner, could approach the Competition Authority or the Council of State to seek a sensible resolution.

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