Report: Free Mobile files complaint over French LTE auction rules

Iliad's Free Mobile, the fourth French mobile operator, has lodged a complaint with the country's highest court over the conditions being applied to the fast-approaching LTE spectrum auctions, according to a French media report.

According to a report in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, which did not cite its sources, Iliad believes that the auction terms being applied by the government favour the the incumbent operators, including France Telecom orange and SFR. The court, which will hear the complaint later this month, will be asked to judge whether the stipulation to pay licence fees upfront presents an unfair advantage to bidders with greater financial reserves.

The government, which has scheduled the auctions to start by Sept. 15, is hoping to raise at least €2.5 billion. Eric Besson, the French minister of industry, has previously stated that the auction conditions are balanced, and will encourage competition and optimise coverage, while promoting the best interests of the government.

Bouygues Telecom, the country's third-largest operator, has already filed a complaint over the forthcoming spectrum auctions and the issue of LTE interfering with digital TV broadcasts. Bouygues CEO Roussat Olivier has said that it will cost between €500 million and €1.7 billion to fix the problem, and has yet to hear back from the government on this issue.

Several French trade unions have also made legal challenges over how the LTE auction has been designed.

For more:
- see the Le Figaro article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Telegeography article
- see this Dow Jones Newswire article

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