Virgin Mobile unveiled plans to offer LTE services in France after signing a "4G Full MVNO" contract with Bouygues Telecom to use the operator's LTE and 3G networks, although it's not clear how this arrangement will affect the MVNO's existing network deals with Orange France and SFR.
Richard Branson tipped his hat to Iliad's Free Mobile.
Bouygues Telecom confirmed the deal to French newspaper Le Monde, although the operator noted that Virgin would not launch LTE services until the first half of 2014. On Oct. 1, Bouygues Telecom will become the third French operator after SFR and Orange to launch LTE services.
Le Monde added that like its French rivals, Virgin Mobile France is hoping that new LTE services will help repair some of the damage caused to its client base by enfant terrible IFree Mobile, which unleashed a price war on France's mobile market at the start of 2012: according to the paper, the MVNO has seen the number of its subscribers fall from 2 million at the end of 2011 to 1.7 million.
In an interview with Les Echos in Paris, Virgin founder Richard Branson said he had the utmost respect for Iliad-owned Free Mobile. "I take off my hat to Free Mobile," he said. "They created their own revolution."
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