According to a report in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, the country’s national regulator Arcep is poised to unveil alternative fixed line and broadband operator Iliad (Free) as the winner of the fourth and final 3G licence, with an announcement expected possibly as early as 17 December.
Last month, TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that Free was confirmed as the sole applicant for the country’s fourth 3G mobile network operating licence by the 29 October deadline. Iliad, bidding under the name Free Mobile, plans to invest about EUR1 billion (USD1.49 billion) into building a mobile network and will have to pay a further EUR240 million to acquire the concession itself. However, it will still take up to 18 months before the firm is able to offer its first commercial packages under the Free Mobile banner – possibly sometime in early summer 2011. The group’s efforts to break into the French mobile market could also be thwarted by France Telecom (Orange), which has filed an appeal with the European authorities, and Bouygues Telecom, which has submitted a separate filing with the State Council, in an attempt to stop it.