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Carrier WiFi

FT's Paris Protest

10:20 AM -- Orange (NYSE: FTE) has filed a complaint with the City of Paris about its plans to operate a free public WiFi network in Paris, claiming that the move is "illegal."

In early March this year, the Mayor's office awarded a contract to one of FT's competitors, mobile operator SFR , to run the network, which was to be built with gear from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See Public WiFi Comes to Paris and Paris Plans Citywide WiFi.)

That was swiftly followed by a complaint from France Telecom, which operates a commercial Parisian WiFi network of 2,250 hotspots, which costs a very reasonable €12 ($16.54) per month for anyone who isn't a France Telecom broadband customer. Those who do use the Orange Livebox service pay "only a very small amount" to use the network, says a spokeswoman for the carrier.

She says FT filed its complaint that the planned network is "illegal -- it is forbidden by law" on March 28, but that the Mayor's office hasn't responded yet. FT says it's against French law for municipalities to provide free access to communication networks in competition with existing private networks.

France Telecom believes a decision by the City of Paris office will be delayed because there is an election for the post of Mayor due in the next year, says the spokeswoman. "We believe the Mayor has some timing issues that are political," she adds.

We have yet to hear back from the Mayor's office or SFR.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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