The French telecoms group Iliad has announced a 4.1% rise in revenues in 2011 to EUR2.12 billion (USD2.87 billion), buoyed by an increase of over 6% in the fourth quarter. Although earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 4% to EUR833 million, the overall profit figure dropped by 20% to EUR252 million on the back of increased spending on infrastructure, particularly relating to the group’s new Free Mobile 3G cellular network, which launched in January 2012. Internet service provider (ISP) Free added 407,000 net new customers in 2011 to take its total base to 4.46 million, while its ‘Alice’ internet service claimed a further 388,000 users. Iliad said it had 35% of all net additions in the broadband internet market in 2011. The group has restated its long-term objective of taking 25% of the fixed broadband market in France, while it says it is also aiming to have deployed 2,500 mobile base stations by end-2012.
Separately, the French telecoms regulator Arcep has reaffirmed that Iliad’s Free Mobile subsidiary is meeting its minimum coverage requirements under the terms of its licence. Arcep says Free is covering at least 27% of the population with its network of base stations. The regulator’s findings have been called into question, however, by frequency regulator ANFR, which claims that although Free does indeed have sufficient base stations in operation to meet coverage requirements, it is not utilising these base stations fully, with too much traffic being transferred to the network of roaming partner France Telecom-Orange. ANFR’s full report is due to be published at the end of this month.