French mobile operators respond to Free Mobile in price-cutting bonanza

As expected, the arrival of Iliad's new low-cost rival Free Mobile in the French market has prompted existing operators to lower prices, although they still fail to match Free's main offer.

According to Reuters, Vivendi-owned SFR is cutting prices on several of its offers, while France Telecom's Orange has reduced prices of plans offered by Sosh, the brand aimed at a younger and more Internet-savvy audience. Bouygues Telecom also said it will cut prices next week.

For example, starting in February Sosh will provide a new price plan at €9.90 per month, offering 120 minutes of calls, unlimited SMS and MMS messages, unlimited Internet access via 30,000 Orange W-iFi hotspots and unlimited access to Facebook and Twitter (to be introduced during February). A "special edition" plan costing €14.90 also provides Internet access with capped connection speeds after 1 GB of use, and includes tethering and VoIP services.

However, Free Mobile's main offer of 3 GB of data, unlimited texts and calls for €19.99 a month remains unmatched, as operators focus on cutting prices on their budget options.

Reuters also noted that Frederic Boulan, telecoms analyst at Nomura, questioned whether France's operators would be able to hold this line for long, and predicted that Free Mobile's aggressive prices would soon force them to lower prices on their traditional subscription contracts.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article

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