[Timeline] One year of Free Mobile: a look back at the key dates

by bold-lichterman

A year ago, to the day, Xavier Niel propelled Free with great fanfare on the mobile market. The new operator now claims 5M subscribers. Back in 30 dates over a year marked by many twists and turns.


January 10, 2012

After several months of buzz, Xavier Niel finally lifts the veil on the details of its mobile offer during a real live streamed show, live from the headquarters ofIliad, the parent company. Xavier Niel therefore keeps his promise and offers prices half the price of those offered by its competitors. (Read the article : [Officiel] After Internet, Free makes its revolution in mobile )

On site, Frenchweb meets Xavier Niel, who debriefs the launch of Free Mobile.

January 13, 2012

Virgin Mobile, Sosh, Red from SFR, Zéro Forfait, and B & You… Barely 3 days after the launch of Free Mobile, all the players in the sector are mobilizing and trying to respond to Free’s ultra-aggressive offer by offering new packages. ( Read the article : [Free mobile] All operators are fighting back and drawing new offers).

January 24, 2012

The daily Les Echos questions the functioning of the network antennas set up by Free Mobile and publishes an article in which it is written: “a growing number of Free antennas are out of service: an overwhelming majority no longer work since the end from last week, even though the network is supposed to cover a quarter of the population. Free user traffic therefore mainly passes through Orange infrastructure, with which Free signed a roaming contract in March. “

January 25, 2012

Xavier Niel, founder ofIliad is heard before the Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly. Objective: to defend the economic model of its new mobile offer, at the heart of many controversies.

During this hearing, Xavier Niel confirms the information that Bouygues Télécom has sent bailiffs to control the Free Mobile network.

(Read the article : Xavier Niel auditioned at the National Assembly: the press review)

January 27, 2012

The protests of Free Mobile’s competitors end up paying off. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announces that it wants to carry out checks again on the Free Mobile network, at the heart of many controversies.

February 9, 2012

According to estimates by Cabinet Oddo Securites, taken over by Capital.fr, Free Mobile already has 2M subscribers, one month after its launch. (Read the article : Free Mobile has already attracted nearly 2 million customers )

February 14, 2012

Orange accuses Free Mobile of saturating its network. According to the magazine Le Point, Orange would have sent a warning letter to Free, following a network incident which it attributes to the overload of Free Mobile subscribers. According to the incumbent operator, 97% of communications on Free Mobile go through its antennas. The magazine Challenges specifies, for its part, that Orange could invoice Free an additional 100M € per year, in addition to the 250M € annual provided for in the roaming contract that binds them.

February 20, 2012

Eric Besson, former Minister of Industry, asks the National Frequencies Agency (ANFR) to carry out an audit within ten days to measure “the effective coverage of the networks of the Free Mobile operator on the metropolitan territory” (Read the article: [Free Mobile] Eric Besson requires an audit of the network within 10 days)

February 22, 2012

6 weeks after the launch of Free Mobile, Orange announces that it has lost a little more 200,000 subscribers. The following days, Bouygues Telecom announced that it had lost 159,000 customers and SFR 200,000.

February 29, 2012

Arcep confirms Free Mobile’s coverage rate : “Free Mobile fulfills its regulatory obligations, with a coverage rate of 28% of the population thanks to the use of 735 commercially open sites. “

March 5, 2012

New episode of the Free Mobile saga. The Alternative Mobile association, which brings together around ten virtual operators, is asking Arcep to initiate a sanction procedure against the new operator. The association particularly deplores the rates that Free Mobile practices in its MVNO offers. (Read the article : MVNOs demand sanctions against Free Mobile from Arcep)

March 8, 2012

Faced with the rounds of accusations about the reality of its mobile coverage and its investments as well as its use of roaming, Iliad reacts in a press release which ends with this threat: “As of this day, Free Mobile will take legal action against anyone denigrating the reality of its coverage or its investments. Since January 10, the French mobile market has been competitive and the French are delighted, it must be accepted… ”(Read the article: Faced with the accusations, Iliad strikes back and threatens!)

March 26, 2012

Orange threatens Free with a cutoff “Orange threatened to suspend the contract which binds it to Free Mobile (…) Orange is worried about the various failures that have occurred on the Free Mobile network recently and wants to protect its own customers”, reports Le Figaro.

April 2, 2012

Free Mobile finally offers the various iPhones models in its mobile offers.

May 7, 2012

ANFR submits its report, requested by Erice Besson. According to the agency, the fourth mobile operator covers well 30% of the population.

May 15, 2012

Free announces 2,610,000 subscribers recruited in less than three months for its mobile offer as of March 31, 2012

June 5, 2012

According to a study submitted by teacher Bruno Deffains, the destruction “caused” by the arrival of Free Mobile would affect nearly 69,400 positions.

June 8, 2012

The CFE-CGC and Unsa seized the Council of State, considering that the coverage of Free is insufficient. They had already complained to Arcep, which had however announced in February that the subsidiary ofIliad complied well with its regulatory obligations. According to the Echos website, the contract which binds Orange to Free should bring back 1 billion euros to the historical operator in three years.

June 26, 2012

Xavier Niel opens his Free Center in Paris, a 640 M2 store located in the city center, near the Madeleine metro station. 80 jobs were created on this occasion.

July 4, 2012

The operator Bouygues Telecom confirms a voluntary departure plan for 556 positions out of 9,800 employees, during a Central Works Council. The objective of this plan is to “safeguard its competitiveness” in the face of the sensational arrival of Free on the market of mobiles last January. (Read the article : Bouygues Telecom confirms the elimination of 556 positions )

July 11, 2012

Martin Bouygues sends a letter to all deputies and senators questioning Free Mobile. “Bouygues asks that the roaming agreement between Free and Orange” cannot “be extended” beyond six years, in order “to encourage the fourth operator to really launch its investments in its mobile network”

July 18, 2012

The war between Free and the incumbent operators continues. Xavier Niel, in an interview with Capital, announces that it has filed a complaint against SFR with the commercial court for unfair competition. In question, the subsidization of mobile telephones, which represents according to him “a way of making disguised consumer credit … without submitting to legal constraints”. He adds: “this amounts to practicing wear rates of 300 or 400% that the consumer does not see”. (Read the article : [Concurrence déloyale] Free Mobile sues SFR )

August 31, 2012

Iliad indicates that it has attracted 3.6M mobile subscribers in the space of 6 months, or 5.4% of the French fleet. In the medium term, Free expects to achieve a market share of 15% and in the long term a market share of 25%

October 14, 2012

Unexpected meeting between the CEO of France Telecom, Stéphane Richard, and the founder of Free, Xavier Niel at our colleagues from RTL, in order to discuss the situation of the telecoms market and the relations between operators. (Read the article : Face to Face Stéphane Richard and Xavier Niel on RTL)

November 15, 2012

Free Mobile claims 4.4M subscribers or 6.4% of the French fleet.

November 19, 2012

According to a study commissioned by Free itself, the arrival of the new operator on the mobile market could be at the origin of the creation of 30,000 jobs.

November 22, 2012

An article from Le Monde reports that a journalist from Les Echos “was indicted after a complaint lodged by the operator Free Mobile, headed by Xavier Niel,” current shareholder of the Le Monde group. The complaint relates to an article published last March and more precisely “a quote from Didier Casas, Secretary General of Bouygues Telecom” in which he mentions, alluding to Free Mobile, a “New notion of empty network that covers”.

November 28, 2012

SFR is cutting 856 jobs. In detail, SFR has lifted the veil on a voluntary departure plan involving 1,123 positions and the creation of 267 positions, AFP reports. This social plan aims to restore the competitiveness of the Vivendi subsidiary, in particular following the arrival of Free on the mobile market.

January 9, 2013

According to some industry experts, Free Mobile would have attracted a total of 5M subscribers a year after its launch. Interviewed in Le Figaro, Xavier Niel nevertheless answers: “We could have done even better! “. The CEO ofIliad declares on a daily basis that she is proud “to have created jobs and to have rendered a great service to the most disadvantaged by lowering the prices”, but regrets “not having succeeded in convincing the French that a subsidized mobile costs, at the ultimately, more expensive than a mobile bought naked, without subscription ”.

January 10, 2013

Just one observation: the arrival of Free on the mobile market will have mobilized all the attention of the media. Today, one year after its launch, many articles still return to this “revolution”.

Here is a selection:

How Free Mobile revolutionized telephony
A year later, Free Mobile remains unclear
Tariffs, network, employment: the real Free Mobile effect
Free Mobile: back on a crazy year in 30 dates and its share of controversy

This evening, Special Envoy will devote part of his program to the quality of the Free mobile network, called into question by various tests, according to lefigaro.fr who was able to obtain some extracts. A birthday present that Free Mobile may not have expected….