Echoing the problems encountered by O2UK in London, Orange and SFR are coming under fire for failing to provide adequate 3G coverage in La Defense, the financial district of Paris.
Smartphone users working in La Defense have complained of data connection speeds five times slower than normal 3G's top speeds, and Orange France's head of mobile networks, Sebastien Plantier, is reported to have confirmed that La Defense was one of France's five busiest locations for mobile data communications and that "everything is not perfect" there, he conceded.
SFR, which has only admitted to a few rare network incidents, is also said by insiders to be suffering from significant network capacity problems, with only Bouygues Telecom, which has fewer 3G data customers, seeming to cope with the surging data traffic.
In an effort to rectify the problem, Orange France has rushed into service 12 more base stations in the most busy parts of the district, and relays in around 15 high-rise office buildings. However, coverage is still reported as inadequate partly due to the canyon effect resulting from the number of tall buildings and interference from other radio networks.
Orange has now promised to deploy more equipment to noticeably boost data speeds in the next three weeks.
Separately, Orange UK has reported that the usage of mobile data by SME users increased by nearly 300 per cent in 2009 due to the popularity of mobile email and web browsing on smartphones.
Anthony Keyworth, Orange UK's director of products, said that, while email drove the increase in mobile data usage, "we expect to see mobile applications for businesses continue to thrive throughout this year. However, we are already seeing increasing demand for solutions that allow remote workers to transmit data directly back to head office, as well as growing use of office apps and CRM solutions via smartphones."
Mobile data growth is recession proof, claims Orange exec
O2's network in meltdown from smartphone usage
Vodafone CEO alerts industry to data explosion
Mobile data traffic expected to rise 40-fold over next 5 years