Council ruling opens door to new mobile licence tender

19 Feb 2008

A ruling by France’s supreme administrative court could pave the way for a new tender for a fourth mobile licence in the country, reports Thomson Financial citing Agence-France Presse as its source. The state council ruled that a decision to allow a fourth licence holder to pay for the concession in instalments rather than in one upfront payment would not infringe any principals of equality or legality between 3G licensees, given that the current incumbents were required to stump up around USD570 million for their licences in 2001. The three operators in question – Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom – objected to an application for the fourth UMTS licence from Iliad’s Free Mobile unit, which asked to pay for the permit in instalments. The French telecoms watchdog Arcep later rejected Free’s bid, saying it did not meet certain ‘financial’ requirements.