French cellcos to share 3G infrastructure

France’s three current mobile carriers will share 3G network infrastructure to speed deployment of the technology, the nation’s telecoms regulator revealed yesterday.

Arcep says that a framework agreement signed by Orange France, SFR, and Bouygues Telecom on February 11 will make it easier to extend the reach of 3G in France, and means the carriers will have exceeded their 3G obligations by the time rollouts are completed by end-2013.
The regulator has pushed for an agreement on 3G network sharing since early 2009, when it outlined the principles any such deal should cover.
Free, the new entrant to the French market that picked up the country’s fourth 3G license in January, will be invited to sign up to the agreement by the end of May.
The established trio of carriers fought tooth and nail against the issuing of a fourth 3G license, claiming unfair treatment by the French government.