Arcep to sell fourth UMTS licence next year

24 Nov 2006

The French telecoms regulator Arcep plans to auction off a fourth UMTS mobile telecom licence in 2007 in a bid to introduce greater levels of competition in the local market. The watchdog has now closed its public consultation on the licence and says 21 companies participated, of which ‘several’ indicated ‘expressions of interest’ in the concession. One of these is understood to be the domestic ISP Iliad (Free) which earlier this week told Arcep that it would be interested in buying the fourth and final UMTS licence. Iliad is already active in the fixed line voice and broadband internet access markets and is currently deploying a WiMAX network to consolidate its position. The three existing 3G licences in France are held by Orange France, Bouygues Télécom and Société Française de Radiotéléphone (SFR), owned by Vivendi and Vodafone. They paid EUR619 million for their licences, and the same price would be paid by the new market entrant.