France Telecom (FT) has thrown down the gauntlet in the country’s mobile market with the launch of a low-cost niche brand, dubbed Sosh, as it looks to pre-empt the upcoming arrival of a new player in the shape of Iliad Mobile. FT’s new brand offers ‘tweaked’ mobile models to reduce costs, no handset subsidies, no contract lock-ins and a 100% online billing and sales/service facility. Reuters reports that the operator hopes to sign up around half a million Sosh users by 31 December 2012, with a specific focus on the 18-35 year old demographic. At launch, FT is offering a range of three handsets with prices ranging from EUR19.90 to EUR39.90 (USD27.9 to USD56.1). The move is seen as something of a curve ball from the Paris-based giant which has previously stuck with charging ‘premium’ tariffs for its mobile and fixed packages on the grounds that it claims to offer a higher quality of network and customer service. However, in an intensely competitive market in which profits and margins are under threat, FT is championing a new approach.
In a separate story, FT today issued a press release saying that in line with its debt management principles the group has seized a window of opportunity in the dollar bond market to continue to extend the maturity of its debt while diversifying still further its funding sources. As such, the operator has placed in the United States USD2 billion in notes, in two tranches. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and JP Morgan are acting as bookrunners.