French MVNOs cut prices to combat Free Mobile

The upheaval within the French mobile operator market following Free Mobile's low-cost launch continues as MVNOs rush out new pricing plans. A leading MVNO, La Poste Mobile, which has about 550,000 customers, announced three new tariffs in order to "adapt to changing market conditions."

"The arrival of Free Mobile altered the market, but is not addressing the same customers. Our customers want to stay," Marc Zemmour, chairman of La Poste Mobile, told AFP. However, Zemmour admitted that Free Mobile had caused a "domino effect" among the main operators and had promoted La Poste Mobile to unveil a selection of low-cost offerings.

Zemmour said the MVNO is immediately launching three new plans based upon 24-month contracts that would include a subsidised handset. The new price plans range from €19 to €49 per month depending on talk time and download limits.

"We remain the cheapest among the operators with a retail distribution network, such as Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom," he said, adding that it was too early to measure the impact Free Mobile's offer might have on La Poste Mobile.

Instead of cutting prices, the French MNVO NRJ Mobile has announced it will compensate new subscribers to its service up to €75 for any contract cancellation fee imposed by their former mobile operator. While this tactic is commonplace among French DSL and cable operators, NRJ Mobile is the first to apply this sales move in the mobile market there.

Separately, the French consumer lobby group UFC-Que Choisir has attacked mobile operators for announcing "unlimited" calls and/or text messaging deals when the small print within the contract details monthly limits. According to the consumer association, La Poste Mobile limits "unlimited" calls to 200 hours per month.

For more:
- see this AFP article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Telecom Paper article (sub. req.)

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