Free Mobile has enraged French MVNOs following the publication of the wholesale rates it plans to charge to carry their calls and text messages. The French MVNO trade body, Alternative Mobile, said that Free's wholesale pricing is far too expensive and has called on the telecoms regulator Arcep and the local competition authority to intervene.
Alternative Mobile says that Free's wholesale rates do not respect its 3G licence conditions, and claims that consumers can obtain better pricing than is being offered to MVNOs.
The CEO of French MVNO Zero Package, Patrick Gentemann, told the French newspaper Les Echos that the wholesale pricing was outrageous. "Free Mobile leaves no space for MVNOs because it sells voice call minutes and texts at a higher rate to MVNOs than to its own customers. These rates show that Free Mobile, far from wanting to host the competition, wants to annihilate it."
Free's published rates, according to a Telecom Paper report, state that full MVNOs would pay a €2 million wholesale launch fee, €1 million a month for wholesale access, €2 per active SIM per month, €0.05 per minute for voice calls, €0.01 per SMS and €0.05 per downloaded MB of data. This compares with Free's consumer rate of €2 a month for 2 hours of calls and 60 SMS.
Alternative Mobile said in a statement that Free had broken its promises over offering favourable rates to MVNOs. "These prices are a real slap to Arcep, which had given Free Mobile its highest score when judged for promoting competition and its commitments towards MVNOs."
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