Mobile operators back Sarkozy’s tax, but only if fourth UMTS licence plan is dropped

25 Jan 2008

France’s three incumbent mobile network operators Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have reportedly told President Nicolas Sarkozy they will endorse his plan for ending advertising on public TV networks by levying a tax on operators, but only if the government abandons its attempts to license a fourth 3G mobile operator. The incumbents’ ultimatum will not be welcome news to Iliad’s Free Mobile unit, which is striving to acquire the unallocated fourth licence, or indeed to any other would-be market entrants. Telecompaper notes that the Attali Commission’s long-awaited report on economic liberalisation in France argues in favour of the emergence of a fourth UMTS network operator to stimulate sector competition and drive down end-user prices.