Having called for the three French operators to share their networks for some years, the telecoms regulator, Arcep, has announced that an agreement has now been signed.
The deal, which involves Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom, is designed to hasten the extension of 3G networks across the country with the aim of achieving nationwide coverage by the end of 2013. Arcep said that it had ‘facilitated' the framework deal which established how the three operators would share 3G network deployments.
Of note was Arcep's comment that the three incumbent operators had also discussed and agreed the terms under which Iliad's Free Mobile would be included in this agreement before 31 May 2010.
Network sharing has remained a topic of discussion within Europe, but with little action except in Scandinavia. Most analysts believe that the deployment costs associated with LTE will trigger much greater co-operation, as will the upsurge of smartphone data traffic which caused O2's network in London to collapse a few months ago.
For more on this story:
Vodafone/O2 network sharing goes live
French regulator to push for 3G network sharing
Swiss operators consider sharing LTE network
O2's network in meltdown from smartphone usage