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French Award More LTE Spectrum

Ray Le Maistre

While the rest of Europe remains in a seasonal slumber, there’s been plenty of significant action in France during the past few days, with the national regulator awarding some key spectrum licenses and the country’s incumbent selling off some regional assets.

  • Regulator Arcep is to award new 800 MHz licenses to SFR , Bouygues Telecom and Orange (NYSE: FTE)’s domestic operation Orange France for the rollout of LTE services.

    The three successful applicants, which have been busy formulating their LTE plans, will pay varying amonts for their licenses, which will be awarded in January. Bouygues is paying €683 million (US$893 million), Orange France is paying €891 million (US$1.16 billion) and SFR is shelling out €1.065 billion (US$1.39 billion). (See SFR Does LTE With NSN in Marseille and France Telecom Updates on LTE, FTTH.)

    Mobile newcomer Iliad (Euronext: ILD) (better known by its Free brand) was the only unsuccessful bidder, but it has been given the go-ahead to strike a roaming agreement with SFR once its own mobile network covers 25 percent of the French population.

    While it was unsuccessful this time around, Iliad's Free Mobile operation was awarded some LTE spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band earlier this year. (See Arcep Awards 4G Spectrum and Euronews: Ericsson Camps on NSN's Turf.)

  • France Telecom (FT) has found a buyer for its Orange Switzerland operation, having agreed to sell the service provider to private equity firm Apax Partners for 2 billion Swiss francs (US$2.14 billion). Orange Switzerland has about 1.6 million customers and generated revenues of CHF1.3 billion (US$1.39 billion) in 2010.

    FT had been seeking a buyer for Orange Switzerland since July. (See FT Looks to Sell Swiss Biz.)

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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