French broadband services provider Iliad (Free) today received the thumbs up from the telecoms regulator Arcep to become the country’s fourth mobile network operator, in a move that is set to shake up the telecoms market. In a statement, the watchdog said it will officially award the spectrum in January 2010, while the ISP has apparently committed to launching services under the Free Mobile brand within two years. The newcomer has pledged to cover at least 90% of the population with its 3G network within eight years of launch, and its promise to deliver ‘competitive prices’ should spur growth in the mobile internet access segment. Free Mobile has also committed to hosting mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), Arcep added. Industry watchers are in broad agreement that Iliad could realistically garner a roughly 5% share of the EUR25 billion (USD36 billion) French mobile market by 2015. The operator has a strong fixed line presence and comprehensive broadband portfolio, and has been actively trying to secure a toehold in the mobile market since it failed in its first application attempt in 2007.
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