France’s telecoms watchdog, the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep), has announced that following its recent quality of service (QoS) survey, which assessed the performance of the four domestic cellcos – Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Free Mobile – in the mobile retail market, it has instructed SFR and Free Mobile to improve their respective 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage maps. The regulator pointed out that the coverage maps published by Orange and Bouygues had ‘good level of reliability’, apart from a few ‘occasional inconsistencies’, with Bouygues Telecom leading the pack with 70% population and 22% territorial 4G coverage, while Orange’s LTE footprint extended to 66% of the population and 18% of the territory. Meanwhile, Free and SFR were advised to revise their coverage maps due to larger inconsistencies. According to the regulator, as of 10 July 2014 SFR covered 30% of the population with LTE (1.7% territorial coverage) while Free provided 4G coverage to 24% of the population, or 1.5% of the country’s territory.
Meanwhile, Arcep pointed out that in terms of 2G and 3G coverage, all operators have met the benchmarks and provide reliable coverage information. Orange and SFR’s 3G services are available for around 99% of the population, while Free Mobile and Bouygues Telecom’s respective 3G footprints extend to 98.5% and 96.5% of the population, respectively. Further, all four operators cover more than 99% of the population with 2G.