Free will have to invest 500 million euros for its 4G network

by bold-lichterman

700 sites make up Free’s 4G network as of December 1, 2013

Illiad, the parent company of Free, announced on Wednesday that 4G would be included in its telephone plans. Surprise for consumers, however, the prices will remain the same, ie 19.99 euros per month or 15.99 euros per month for Freebox subscribers. The offer includes full speed up to 20 GB of use per month, for a maximum theoretical speed of 150 megabits per second, and reduced beyond that.

“We said to ourselves that it was too expensive, the operators are going to gorge themselves, we said no” (Maxime Lombardini, Managing Director of Iliad, on BFM Business to Stéphane Soumier)

The company hopes to divide by five the price offered on the market for this type of 4G package. […] on the basis of a rate of a similar package without commitment ”. Illiad recalls that 700 sites made up Free’s 4G network as of December 1, 2013. “Accessible in more than 1,000 municipalities, the 4G network will rapidly grow with the setting up of several hundred new 4G sites in the coming weeks”.

Uncertainties on the pooling agreement

It remains to be seen what will be the real quality of service offered, while users are still complaining about the network of the young mobile operator launched in January 2012. Doubts also persist about the possibility of Free joining the network pooling agreement – to which Bouygues Telecom and SFR are participating for 2G, 3G and 4G.

“An agreement between two of the three operators of historical mobile networks which does not provide for the reception of the fourth operator would seem to us to be a major destabilizing factor. Moreover, such an agreement could be legally open to criticism, ”explained Mr. Lombardini, in a letter addressed to the two competitors.

A strategy that would have visibly displeased Fleur Pellerin, the Minister responsible for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy, opposed to such an operation. We do not agree with Free. We want this alliance to be made ”specified his entourage to the Sunday newspaper Last Saturday, before adding that it was “the only solution to avoid a concentration of the market with three operators”.

The installation of an antenna is now estimated at around 100,000 euros. To arrive at 5,000 units, the Iliad group will therefore have to invest 500 million euros, a figure which does not seem to worry Maxime Lombardini. The operator now has 700 antennas and installs 50 additional stations each month.