French telcos Bouygues Telecom and Orange France have hit back at Iliad (Free) in the ongoing price war within the French mobile market, by offering free 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services with their respective low-cost packages. Local newspaper Le Figaro reports that Bouygues Telecom has added 4G access to its budget B&You subscriptions, starting at EUR9.99 (USD13.76). For its part, Orange France has announced that it will offer access to its 4G network for Sosh subscribers from January 2014, although no further details regarding the pricing have been revealed.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month Iliad revealed that subscribers to its Free Mobile Plan, currently priced at EUR19.99 per month, would benefit from download speeds of up to 150Mbps, at no additional cost. Further, the price plan would provide a 20GB data allowance. Further, on 9 December Free Mobile revealed that current subscribers to its EUR2 (USD2.75) plan would automatically benefit from access to its 3G/4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, with MMS messaging and 50MB of data allowance also included in the subscription plan; ‘FreeBox’ users can access the 4G network for free. Iliad’s move was widely perceived as a direct response to rival Bouygues Telecom’s prior announcement that it would provide its subscribers with access to its LTE network at no extra cost.
Meanwhile, Orange France CEO Stephane Richard has addressed the escalating price battle by threatening to end its roaming agreement with Free Mobile, by stating: ‘Orange may very well do without the roaming agreement, but is the [opposite] certain?’ The executive clarified: ‘Free Mobile has only a few frequencies and antennas, when compared to its competitors. Even accelerating its deployment, it can in no way claim to have national coverage 4G on its own, which means that to get coverage worthy of the name in the coming weeks, it will necessarily press for a roaming agreement or [network] sharing with one of its competitors.’