French telecoms company Iliad, operating in the country under the Free Mobile banner, has dealt another blow to its competitors by including high-end smartphone lease deals in its Free Mobile package, currently priced at EUR19.99 (USD27.10) per month. According to a company press release, subscribers to the Free Mobile plan can lease some of the latest handset models, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, Apple iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3, for EUR12 per month (over a 24 month-period), in addition to an upfront fee starting at EUR49. The offer represents an average discount of 40% on the original price of a smartphone handset. New subscribers can sign up to the deal from 17 December 2013, while current Free Mobile users will be able to access the offer by the end of the month.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Free Mobile sparked a price war in the French wireless market in December 2013, when it revealed that subscribers to its Free Mobile Plan would now benefit from download speeds of up to 150Mbps, at no additional cost. By way of comparison, rival Bouygues Telecom’s cheapest 4G plan costs EUR29.99 (for 3GB of data), while Orange provides 4G services for EUR39.99 per month (including 4GB of data) and SFR charges EUR42.99 for 3GB of data over its 4G network. Subsequently, Bouygues Telecom and Orange France hit back at Iliad by offering free 4G LTE services with their respective low-cost packages. Meanwhile, Orange France CEO Stephane Richard 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?’