Virgin Mobile eyes French 3G licence

Having seen the appeal by Bouygues Telecom to stop the allocation of frequencies for a fourth 3G operator dismissed, Virgin Mobile has strongly hinted it might apply for the forthcoming licence. The company's CEO, Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, said Virgin Mobile was seriously studying the option of applying for this fourth 3G licence.

"We are almost obliged to do so as the fourth mobile operator--in terms of numbers of customers, with growth prospects that we have," said Roux de Bezieux. "The price of the licence (€206 million) is still quite cheap". Virgin Mobile had a total of 1.13 million subscribers as at 1 April 2009, a market share of nearly two per cent, with a goal to sign up two million users before the end of 2010.

The granting of the 3G licence follows the decision by the French Council of State that three incumbents--Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Orange France--should hand over an equal portion of their spectrum to allow the deployment of the fourth operator.

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