WiMax Blooms in Paris
Bolloré Telecom, which has 12 regional 3.5 GHz licenses in France covering much of the country, announced its mobile WiMax plans just weeks after rival WiMax operator Société Haut Débit (SHD) -- a joint venture between Neuf Cegetel Group (Euronext: NEUF) and mobile operator SFR -- unveiled its network rollout. (See French JV Pushes on With WiMax and SHD Builds Out WiMax.)
Bolloré Telecom will launch commercial services later this year, but the size of its pilot network was not disclosed.
SHD is rolling out a mobile WiMax network to 100 sites in Paris and its suburbs and in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, which includes Nice, Cannes, and Marseille. The operator plans to have a WiMax network with 440 sites by 2012, three quarters of which will be in the Paris area.
Iliad (Euronext: ILD) is the only operator with a national WiMax license in the country. The operator plans to pilot mobile WiMax by the end of this year in an urban area and has been evaluating equipment from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Networks , and Samsung Corp. (See Euro Altnets Step Up M&A.)
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is supplying its 802.16e equipment -- also known as "mobile WiMax" -- and deploying the networks for SHD and Bolloré Telecom. The vendor says that France is its busiest market in Europe.
"That's because it's the market where the competition between the players is the most active," says Karim El Naggar, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent's WiMax business.
AlcaLu talked of gaining traction in the mobile WiMax market in its second-quarter results. The vendor says it has 70 trials and deployments and 12 commercial contracts. (See AlcaLu Partners in Russia, AlcaLu Scores WiMax Wins, Casema Tests With AlcaLu, AlcaLu Wins WiMax Deal, and Alcatel-Lucent Slumps on Q2 Loss .)
In France, 3.5 GHz licenses only allow fixed and nomadic applications; they do not allow mobility. While some European regulators consider changing 3.5 GHz broadband wireless access license terms to include mobility, French regulator Arcep does not plan to allow it, says an ARCEP spokeswoman. (See Ofcom Issues WiMax Consultation and Inquam lands Another Euro WiMax License.)
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading