Iliad's Free launches new triple-play offer, tells mobile rivals to calm down

Iliad lived up to its promise of launching a new offer for Free fixed-line subscribers, but fears that the company's Free Mobile unit would start yet another price war on the French mobile market appear to be unfounded--at least for now.

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Iliad founder Xavier Niel

The France-based operator's founder Xavier Niel on Tuesday unveiled a new entry-level triple-play bundle of fixed voice, internet and TV services at €29.99 ($32) a month, and also introduced new technologies such as 4K for high-definition broadcasting and a new "Freebox mini 4K" set-top box that uses the Android operating system (OS).

In terms of mobile pricing, the only change announced was that up to four mobile price plans are now available at €15.99 a month for each Freebox subscription, compared to two previously. Subscribers without an existing fixed-line subscription still pay €19.99 a month for a Free Mobile contract, which continues to include unlimited calls, SMS and MMS in France; 20 GB of 4G or 3G mobile data; unlimited Wi-Fi; and a 35-day a year roaming pass including 3 GB of data.

Before Niel made his appearance at a press conference on Tuesday, it had been speculated by French media that Free Mobile would cut in half its €19.99 offer, causing shares in rival operators Orange, Numericable-SFR and Bouygues Telecom to fall sharply, the Financial Times reported.

Reuters noted that share prices improved again following Niel's announcement, after it appeared that Free Mobile is not initiating a new price war on the mobile market. The effects of the launch by the company of a €19.99 mobile contract in January 2012 are still being felt in France to this day, and a new mobile price war would put further pressure on operator margins and market share.

Niel may yet have further plans for his mobile unit; indeed, in November last year he said mobile users should also see some new developments between February and August this year.

For now, the Iliad founder has sought to reassure the market:

"Our core business is in the fixed area...We said in November we would launch a little surprise and so it will be in fixed," Niel said, Reuters reported. "To my competitors I say calm down, calm down, everything will be fine."

For more:
- see this Iliad release on the new Freebox mini 4K
- see this Iliad release on its new mobile offer
- see this Reuters article
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)

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