Ministry may modify fourth 3G licence terms, relax payment schedule

22 Nov 2007

The French economy ministry is considering plans to modify the terms of the country’s fourth 3G mobile licence, writes Thomson Financial citing an unconfirmed report in La Tribune newspaper. It is understood the French authorities may allow the winner to make payments over a period of several years, rather than in a one-off up front payment, a condition sought by Iliad (Free) as part of its unsuccessful bid for the concession, which was rejected last month.

Iliad was the sole bidder for the country’s fourth UMTS licence when the deadline closed at midday, 31 July. At that date, Iliad set a condition on its application saying it believed the success of the fourth mobile operator was dependent on the winner being allowed to make a deferred annual payment of the licence fee instead of an up front one-off payment of EUR619 million. ‘Iliad believes that a single payment of the rental charge represents a barrier to entering the market,’ the company said. The operator also called for access to the 900MHz bands alongside 2.15GHz frequencies, and applauded the decision to allocate the winner 5MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band from end-2009.

La Tribune reports that the ministry has now prepared texts modifying the financial provisions to be attached to the licence fee, though this has yet to be submitted to the government for approval, it said.

France, Iliad (Free)