French mobile operator SFR has announced the launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for residential and business subscribers in the cities of Nantes, Toulon and Saint-Etienne. According to a press release, more than 89% of the population in the city of Nantes is now covered by the 4G network, while 68% of the inhabitants of the Nantes agglomeration have access to LTE services; the city of Saint-Etienne boosts 98% LTE coverage (with 59% population coverage in the agglomeration of Saint-Etienne); finally the 4G network extends to 70% of the population in the city of Toulon (Toulon Agglomeration – 30%). The company has attributed the extended coverage to the utilisation of 800MHz frequency band for its LTE deployment. SFR plans to further increase the footprint of its 4G network to 94% of the population in greater Nantes by end-2013, while the coverage in the agglomerations of Saint-Etienne and Toulon will be extended to 62% and 56% of the population, respectively. SFR also plans to cover 70% of the country with its LTE and dual-carrier (DC)-HSPA+ networks by the end of 2013.
SFR has also announced that its LTE network was present in 275 cities/towns in 55 agglomerations at 1 October 2013, including the cities of Annecy, Arles, Avignon, Beauvais, Belfort, Blois, Bordeaux, Cannes, Chalon-sur-Saone, Chambery, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Le Mans, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Metz, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Nice, Niort, Orleans, Paris, Poitiers, Reims and Rennes. By comparison, rival Bouygues Telecom has a 4G presence in around 2,000 French towns at the same date, while Orange has covered a total of 500 towns with its 4G networks.