Iliad threatens legal action over lack of 3G roaming agreement

Having purchased the country's fourth 3G licence, Iliad has received no replies from the other French mobile operators in response to its need for a 3G roaming agreement.

Obviously annoyed by the lack of interest, the Paris-based company said it was considering lodging an antitrust complaint or would complain to the French telecom regulator Arcep if a deal failed to materialise.

Commenting on the issue, Iliad's CEO, Maxime Lombardini, said that none of the three other French mobile operators had made a proposal. However, if an agreement wasn't forthcoming, said the CEO, then Iliad had two alternative options "but for the time being we still hope they will see sense."

While none of the existing operators are bound to provide Iliad with a 3G roaming contract, Lombardini claimed that such a large deal would provide an incumbent 3G operator with a significant profit margin. He added that it would provide the competition with "a good way to compensate the loss of market share due to a fourth operator."

However, the reluctance by other operators to provide a 3G roaming service for Iliad is probably due to the fear that the new entrant will offer cut-price tariffs, and then lure their subscribers across to Iliad's quad-play service.

Lombardini's answer to this alarm is blunt, claiming that tariffs from the other three operators were already declining before Iliad entered the mobile market purely on the basis of the entry of a fourth player.

The need for Iliad to strike a 3G roaming deal will become more critical as it nears its launch date of 2012 when its own network--branded Free Mobile--will only provide very limited coverage.

For more:
- see this Total Telecom article

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