FT Orange loses 200K subscribers to Free Mobile--in 6 weeks

France Telecom (FT) Orange confirmed losing 201,000 subscribers to Iliad's Free Mobile in the six weeks since the low-cost operator launched.

FT Orange, the first French operator to outline the impact that Free Mobile has had on its subscriber base, said it received 1.038 million contract termination requests from Jan. 1 until Feb. 15, partially offset by recruiting 837,000 new customers over the same period. The loss represents around 0.7 per cent of FT Orange's customer base.

France Telecom said that it was able to stem the decline in its customer base by launching a strong commercial response to Free's offer and providing better network coverage. However, FT Orange said that it took the decision not to match Free Mobile's cut-price plans, and instead focus on improving customer satisfaction. It also noted that its low-cost mobile brand Sosh and its Orange Open quad-play service had both been successful in attracting new subscribers since Free Mobile made its first appearance.

While the launch of Free Mobile seems to have attracted consumer interest, FT Orange says this may now be fading. The company said that the daily number portability requests peaked at 150,000 within 48 hours of Free's launch, but had now fallen to a tenth of this number.

Finally, FT Orange has confirmed that its network roaming deal with Free Mobile could generate more than the envisaged €1 billion over the six-year term. Initial estimates claim that Free's customers are generating more 2G/3G roaming traffic than expected. According to La Tribune, the roaming deal could see revenues as high as €1.5 billion with margins approaching 80 per cent.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this La Tribune article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Telegeography article

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