French competition authority to look at Free Mobile roaming deal

6 Nov 2012

The French government has called on the country’s independent competition watchdog Autorite de la Concurrence to examine if Iliad group’s Free Mobile operation should be allowed to expand its existing cellular roaming deal with Orange France. The authority will consider whether an expansion of the 2G and 3G wholesale agreement will give a ‘lasting advantage’ to Free Mobile, whose customers are able to roam on the Orange network while Free builds out its own infrastructure. Competitors have complained that Free is being given an unfair advantage as they were not able to benefit from similar deals while they were in the early stages of deploying their own networks. As part of the same study, the Autorite de la Concurrence is to look at the possibility of operators sharing mobile network infrastructure in the 800MHz band to help speed up wireless broadband rollouts. The watchdog is expected to come to a decision by the end of February 2013.