The French telecoms regulator, Arcep has finally awarded the country's fourth 3G license - to the sole bidder in the latest round, Free Mobile, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iliad group. Free Mobile has also taken numerous commitments, on commercial, contractual and technical levels, with respect to hosting mobile virtual network operators (MVNO). Among other things, it has committed to hosting full MVNOs on its network.Free Mobile has committed to launch its services within two years, and to cover at least 90% of the population with its 3G network within eight years.
This call for applications was a follow-up to those issued in 2000, 2001 and 2007. Three of the four 3G licences were awarded at the outcome of the first two calls for submissions: to SFR and Orange France in 2001 then to Bouygues Telecom in 2002. As the call for applications carried out in 2007 produced no results, a new procedure for awarding a licence for 5 MHz in the 2.1 GHz band was launched by the French government on August 1st 2009.
Arcep will award the frequency licence to Free Mobile in January 2010. The remaining spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band will be allocated through a new call for applications, which will be issued in the first half of 2010 and be open to all players. Finally, with a scheduled launch in the second half of 2010, Arcep is preparing the allocation procedures for the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz-band spectrum which will enable the deployment of LTE and WiMAX networks.
Source: Cellular News