Report: France Telecom, Free Mobile extend partnership to cover SMS fees

France Telecom and Iliad's Free Mobile have completed their negotiations for new SMS termination rates, while discussions concerning the Free signing an LTE roaming agreement are said to be pending, according to a report in Les Echos.

According to the French newspaper, which did not cite its sources, the operators held talks in secret over revising their SMS termination rates, with France Telecom agreeing to reduce its pricing to accommodate the unlimited text allowance offered in Free Mobile's €20 package. In turn, Free Mobile agreed to reduce its claims in terms of SMS termination charges.

Of greater interest, especially to rivals SFR and Bouygues Telecom, is news that France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard has indicated an openness toward an LTE roaming partnership with Free Mobile, a move that has been welcomed by Free Mobile executives.

This comes after Richard had talked of sharing LTE deployment caital expenditures with SFR and Bouygues Telecom, without hinting of any inclusion of Free Mobile. France Telecom and its two major competitors are already said to be in network sharing talks that could see LTE services launched in Paris, Lyon and Marseille at the start of next year.

Les Echos reported that France Telecom does not want an exclusive LTE sharing deal, with a spokesperson saying: "If the interests of Bouygues Telecom converge with ours, then we can forge an alliance. Everything is a matter of financial considerations."

However, relationships between SFR, Bouygues Telecom and France Telecom reportedly remain strained due to the original roaming deal Free Mobile hatched with France Telecom, which will now generate €1 billion in revenues for France Telecom in three years instead of six.

SFR and Bouygues are said to be refusing to pay their bills for any Free Mobile SMS termination charges, and this situation is likely to require the involvement of the telecoms regulator, Arcep.

For more:
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)

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