French operators play politics to stop 4th UMTS licence

In an effort to stop the French government from issuing a fourth 3G licence, Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom--the three existing UMTS licence holders--are looking to co-operate with plans by the Sarkozy administration over a tax on mobile operators.

This maneuvering will see the operators endorse the President's plan to end advertising on public TV networks and recoup a loss by levying a tax on operators--but only if the government abandons its attempts to license a fourth 3G mobile operator. If successful, this high-level politics will be unwelcome news to Iliad's Free Mobile unit, which is striving to acquire the unallocated fourth licence, or indeed to any other would-be market entrants.

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