Arcep to check Free’s mobile network after rivals call foul

30 Jan 2012

The French telecoms watchdog Arcep is launching an inspection of market newcomer Free Mobile’s infrastructure after accusations from rivals that its networks are not operational. Since the Iliad-owned unit launched its low-cost mobile service three weeks ago, a number of established mobile network operators have suggested the Free Mobile network is below par and its customer service poor. The brouhaha was ratcheted up a notch after media sources claimed Free was switching off some of its overloaded mobile antennas and diverting traffic to the Orange France network – under the terms of a roaming agreement between them. However, critics point out that such a move would be in violation of Free’s licence which stipulates it must provide 27% coverage in its own stead in order to utilise the roaming agreement. Reuters quotes Free Mobile CEO Maxime Lombardini as saying the newcomer has not turned off any part of its network. ‘Our competitors are trying to make it seem to consumers that there is a problem with our network. There isn’t,’ said Lombardini. ‘When you are faced with false rumours, the best thing to do is get back to the real facts.’ Now, and despite there being no formal complaints from MNOs in the country, Arcep has decided to conduct a review of Free Mobile’s systems ‘for the sake of transparency and peace of mind’. The results of the inquiry would then be made public, it added.

France, Free Mobile (Iliad)