LTE - a present for Christmas and beyond

I got an early Christmas present this week when Orange announced that Sosh, its low-cost mobile brand, will start offering LTE to its customers as of Jan. 9. This is good news for consumers such as myself who have opted for one of the secondary brands in France but found themselves left out in the cold when it came to LTE.

With my iPhone 5s at the ready together with a €24.99 ($34.20) Sosh forfait (mobile plan, to you), I'm ready to join the new mobile revolution that is LTE.

Of course I have enfant terrible Free Mobile to thank for this development. Whether you view Free Mobile's recent attack on LTE prices as good or bad (and reactions are wide ranging), as a consumer it's certainly welcome. Both Orange and Bouygues Telecom now plan to offer LTE as part of their low-cost offerings at no extra cost as a direct result of the Iliad-owned operator's offensive.

As you would expect, Orange France has been particularly critical of Free's move, and sarcastically noted that Free's inclusion of LTE in its current offers "is first and foremost an exercise in communication timed to coincide with the start of the Christmas sales period."

Of course, LTE is not just for Christmas, and pricing strategies will play out throughout 2014. In markets such as France with an upstart aggressive operator, it's questionable whether operators will be able to raise prices for LTE as some had planned following early promotional periods.

Current Analysis analyst Emma Mohr-McClune said existing operators should have expected Free Mobile to act exactly as it did. "Free Mobile's approach was entirely predictable, and if its rivals are appearing to be surprised and vociferous in their outrage, I see that as a somewhat staged response," she added.

Like me, many of you may also be experiencing LTE for the first time if some kind friend or relative has bought you an outrageously expensive LTE smartphone or tablet as a Christmas present. If so, happy surfing, and try not to drop your shiny new device in the Christmas punch before you've got your insurance policy sorted out.--Anne

P.S. FierceWireless:Europe is taking a short publishing break over the festive period, but look out for a few extra stocking fillers on the site before the new year. We will be back in your inbox on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

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